Friday, February 22, 2008

Triathlete Simon Whitfield Says He's Not Worried About Beijing's Air Quality

"Olympic gold medallist Simon Whitfield doubts air pollution will be a problem during the triathlon at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

With the eyes of the world watching, Whitfield believes Chinese authorities will do everything possible to clean up the air before the Games. "I just don't think they can afford for it to be an issue so it won't be an issue," Whitfield said Monday during a news conference to promote the world triathlon championships to be held in Vancouver in June.

"It's such a big issue now they are going to have to address it."

Concerns over air quality have prompted International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to warn that endurance events would be postponed at the Games if air pollution presents a danger.

Some athletes say they will train in Japan and not travel to Beijing until just prior to their event. Others have suggested they might skip the Games.

Beijing organizers plan to close factories, stop construction, and take more than one million vehicles off the road to reduce air pollution during the Aug. 8-24 Games.

Whitfield, who won the triathlon at the 2000 Sydney Games, said every Olympics presents a challenge.

"Before Athens traffic was going to be the big issue and the construction," he said. "We got to Athens and it was pretty smooth. Sydney there was issues with construction and time zones and it all worked out.

"I just really think we kind of get rolling on these subjects and they tend to work out. It's part of the process. People have a right to be concerned because air quality is something that is so basic, but I think they will it sorted out." (read the rest of the article here).


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