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Monday May 14, 2007 MYT 12:00:00 AM
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SYDNEY: Australia's Olympic hopefuls have been told to do most of their training outside of Beijing ahead of next year's Games, after officials revealed deep concerns about air quality in the city.
Athletes have been encouraged to arrive in the Chinese capital only days before they are due to compete, over worries that heat and pollution could affect their performance.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates revealed his concerns at the AOC's annual meeting here this weekend.
Are we confident that the authorities will be able to address the respiratory problems up there? No, we are not, Coates said.
We have had athletes up there who have experienced significant problems.
Beijing is one of the world's most polluted cities and Olympic organisers are battling to resolve the problem ahead of next summer.
The government has poured in US$12.3bil into pollution control in a bid to honour its pledge to stage an environmentally friendly Games.
But Australia's 500-plus athletes will be encouraged to do to their final training at home or elsewhere in Asia, and arrive in Beijing only a matter of days before their competition, Coates told the delegates.
Australia's swimmers will steer clear of Beijing, with their final training being held in Kuala Lumpur.
The head of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, Liu Qi, said last March that the city may decide to shut down the capital's industry if pollution threatens to disrupt the Olympics. AFP
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