Marathon Champion Shuns Beijing

From Al Jazeera:

Ethiopian athlete and marathon world-record holder, Haile Gebrselassie, will not compete in the Beijing Summer Olympics marathon. Gebrselassie suffers from asthma and has cited the capital’s excessive air pollution as a potential health risk. After last year’s inspection tour, Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee reported that due to pollution concerns, Olympic endurance events could be subject to cancelation or relocation. The New York Times reports that female tennis-player Justine Henin is also considering dropping-out this years games because of Beijing’s poor air-quality. Spokespeople for the Beijing Olympics, like Sun Weide, speak highly of Beijing’s progress and express confidence that Beijing will have better air-quality by the start of the summer games.

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World record marathon runner Haile Gebresalassie has said he will not compete in the event at the Beijing Olympics later this year, citing the city’s high levels of pollution. The Ethiopian athlete, who suffers from asthma, said the Chinese capital’s often choking pollution could damage his health.

“The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42km in my current condition,” the 34-year-old told Reuters.

The announcement is a potentially huge embarrassment for Chinese Olympic organisers, raising the possibility that other athletes could follow suit.

Watch Haile Gebrselassie Marathon World Record on the YouTube:

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March 12, 2008 2:12 PM
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