China vows smogless Games in 2008

BEIJING: The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will not be shrouded in smog or choked by traffic jams, state media said yesterday, citing the city's top Games official. 

There are only two years to go before the Chinese capital is to host the world's biggest sports event, but that will be enough time to solve the problems, according to Liu Qi. 

“The problems that exist in Beijing, such as traffic jams and environmental pollution, are things we have to solve, whether we are hosting the Olympics or not,” said Liu, according to the China Daily newspaper. 

“Preparing for the Games should allow us to bring solutions to these problems ahead of schedule,” he said. 

Beijing has made great steps in improving air quality in recent years and the situation is getting better and better, said Liu. 

While car ownership continues to expand in the city of 15mil residents, other measures are being taken to clean up the air, Liu said. 

He pointed to Beijing's more than 9,000 construction sites being ordered to cover up sand mounds to avoid dust getting caught by the wind. 

At the same time, heavy polluters such as the Beijing Shougang steelworks have been moved out of the city, while the Beijing Coking Plant was told to stop production this July, he said. 

China will host half a million foreign visitors during the Games, according to the city’s estimates, but Liu said handling the additional masses would not be a problem. 

Four new subway lines will be ready for the Games, new transport hubs will be created, and temporary traffic controls will be set up for the duration of the Olympics, he said. – AFP  

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