… to skip this year’s Olympics in Beijing.

Beijing pollution risky for endurance athletes

BEIJING (Reuters) – Endurance events at the Beijing Olympics could pose a health risk if they are staged on heavily polluted days, the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday, although it was prepared to reschedule such events.

Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC coordination commission, said there was a small chance of athletes suffering some damage to their health if they took part in events lasting longer than an hour, such as the marathon and cycling road races.

Beijing is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, despite a 120 billion yuan ($17.12 billion) clean-up over the last decade, air quality remains a concern for many athletes coming to the Olympics, already a lightning rod for rights protests worldwide.