IOC chief praises China’s anti-pollution efforts

August 7th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 7 (Xinhua) International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge Thursday lauded China for its extraordinary efforts to tackle pollution. “The Chinese authorities have done everything that is feasible and humanly possible to address this situation. What they have done is extraordinary,” Rogge told a press conference.

Beijing has invested billions of dollars to improve its environment since it won the Olympic bid, and a number of drastic measures have been implemented to guarantee good air quality during the event, including shutting down construction sites and reducing the operations of polluting industries in and around Beijing.

However, air quality has been a concern for many in the build-up to the Beijing Games, and the Chinese organisers have been under fire from the media.

With Beijing shrouded in a haze just one day before the start of the Olympics, Rogge snubbed attempts to categorize the air as polluted in the Chinese capital, stating that there is a difference between the haze that has enveloped the city and air pollution.

“The fog you see is based on humidity and heat. It does not mean that this fog is the same as pollution,” he said.

Earlier this week, several IOC officials including medical chief Arne Ljungqvist and Pal Schmitt, chairman of the IOC environmental commission, said on different occasions that there was no danger to the health of athletes and visitors in Beijing.

Rogge also said he intentionally doesn’t know anything about the opening ceremonies.

“Only Mr. Hein Verbruggen (chairman of the IOC’s coordination commission) knows, and he seems very happy,” Rogge said with a smile.

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