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Friday 28th October 2016

Cancel the Olympics over health fears

15th March 2008

Writing in The Guardian, Peter Tatchell calls for the Beijing Olympics to be relocated on the grounds of athletes’ health.


While world champion long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie’s decision not to run the marathon at the Beijing Olympics is disappointing, it is a wise one.

The pollution in Beijing is so bad that no athlete can safely participate without it affecting their health and possibly impairing their sporting careers in the longer-term.

Combined with the heat this summer, the pollution could prove fatal to some athletes. But coaches, managers and spectators are also at risk in the toxic air of the Chinese capital, especially those with cardiovascular problems.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) boss Jacques Rogge has dismissed the idea of competitors wearing face masks as “useless? but the IOC has been guilty of colluding with the Chinese authorities in down playing the risk. For that, Rogge should resign.

Moves by the Chinese government to counter the pollution with car bans and factory closures will not be enough. The pollution is there for all to see with the Olympic stadium permanently shrouded in smog.

The IOC should take action now and cancel the 2008 Olympic Games on pollution grounds and the health risk. It should reschedule them to take place in 2009 as a multi-city Olympics, with different cities around the world hosting different events.

The Beijing Games are tarnished by being awarded to a police state in the first place. We should not compound this by “damaging the health, and possibly killing? some of the world’s top athletes.


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