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Olympics: Australia to test Beijing-bound athletes for asthma

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) April 16, 2008
The Australian Olympic Committee said Wednesday it would test its Beijing-bound athletes for asthma to identify those vulnerable to air pollution in the Chinese capital.

"As preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, the Australian Olympic Committee is endeavouring to conduct asthma screenings for prospective members of the 2008 team," the AOC said.

"Asthma tests are being conducted in an attempt to minimise the possible impact of air pollution on the performance of athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in Beijing as well as identify those athletes at risk."

Australia is preparing to send a record-sized team of almost 500 athletes to Beijing.

The Chinese capital is one of the world's most polluted cities and athletes and officials have expressed concern about poor air quality during the August 8-24 Games.

The International Olympic Committee said last month that it would set up a special panel to recommend the postponement of events at the Beijing Olympics in case of heavy pollution.

Ethiopia's world record holding marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie last month said he would not run in the event in Beijing because he feared for his health.

"I do not want to kill myself in Beijing," the asthmatic told Spain's El Pais newspaper.

"The marathon will be impossible because of the pollution, heat and humidity."

Chinese authorities are attempting to improve air quality for the Games by ordering factory and construction shutdowns in Beijing for two months from July 20.

Officials have also said they plan to remove roughly half of Beijing's three million-plus cars from the city's roads during the Games.

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'Bin brother' tagging Australian rubbish
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