Pakistanis find Beijing air ‘much cleaner’ than home

August 6th, 2008 - 7:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Aug 6 (IANS) As athletes from around the world complain about the Beijing pollution, Pakistani sportsmen training there for the Olympic Games are wondering what’s all the fuss about. “We find the Beijing air to be quite clean,” said Pakistan’s hockey coach Khawaja Zakauddin. There isn’t any unbearable pollution. In fact it’s much better as compared to back home,” he was quoted as saying by ‘The News’ Wednesday.

Western media has been constantly bombarding China with stories claiming that Beijing is too polluted to hold the Games in spite of the fact that the hosts have spent a staggering US$18 billion to make the city clean for the quadrennial spectacle.

Pictures of some members of the US cycling squad that arrived in Beijing Tuesday wearing black respiratory masks were splashed by wire services. The cyclists were apparently concerned over reports of unhealthy levels of air pollution in Beijing. Such sights have become quite a routine in the lead up to history’s most expensive Games.

Zaka and his players are, however, not bothered, said the report.

“Beijing is a bit hot but it’s not unbearable,” said Zaka, a former Olympic gold medallist. In fact the weather is better here than Lahore.”

The Pakistani chief coach said that he and his players are very pleased with the excellent arrangements made at the picturesque athletes’ village.

According to him, food is not a problem as there is a wide range of dishes to choose from. An interpreter given to the Pakistani contingent by the event’s organisers help the visitors overcome the language barrier and the presence of coach Naveed Alam, who had coached in China for three years, is an additional bonus.

At the massive dining area, Pakistani hockey players generally make a beeline for the burgers.

“They like burgers and also pasta and other European dishes,” said Zaka. “In addition there are also some Asian dishes.”

Zaka said the players were focused on the task at hand. “We have around a week to go before our first game and the boys are making good use of the time available for us to prepare for the big game,” he stressed.

Pakistan will meet Great Britain August 11 in their opening game.

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