Saturday, August 09, 2008

Smog could postpone some Olympic events

From the Vancouver Sun

BEIJING -- The admission, the one the Chinese did not want to hear, finally came on Saturday.

The smog hanging over Beijing is getting so bad that the International Olympic Committee may have to consider postponing or shifting events.

That point hasn't been reached yet, but Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said Saturday that Beijing is "struggling at the moment to keep within the range of the weather conditions that they have committed for the quality for the athletes."

He said Beijing needs the luck of some wind and rain over the next few days to clear the inversion of bad air that is stuck over the city.

"A little bit of wind, a little bit of rain, can change the numbers significantly," he said.

"And I hope that bit of luck will also be part of the next few days."

No rain is forecast until Monday. By late Saturday afternoon, there was a slight breeze but not much of one.

"At the moment, the International Olympic Committee, (the Beijing organizing committee), and the whole Olympic movement are clearly watching the numbers," said Steiner.

"As you know, there has been a lot of talk about WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines, and about national standards. At the moment . . . the pollution levels have been increasing over the last few days but likely to stabilize.

"At this moment in time, the IOC is in charge of determining at what point an event might have to postponed or shifted."...

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