Posted by: Joe English | March 13, 2008

Racing: Beijing officials say no to Gebs; marathon course stays as planned

Earlier this week, we reported that marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie had officially pulled out of the Beijing Olympic Marathon due to concerns over air pollution. At the time, Gebs left open the possibility of running the race if the venue were moved to another less polluted location.

Now CNN is reporting that Beijing officials have politely said, no thanks.

“The course for the marathon has been fixed and there are no plans to change it,” said Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said in the article. He went on to add, “Beijing is a beautiful city, the marathon route is well planned, and the spectators are hospitable. As for the pollution, we are confident that we can deliver good air quality for the Games.”

Gebs added that this was in essence a business decision for him based on his health. He is quoted as saying, “I have nothing against China or their hosting of the Olympics. . . . I have planned to compete in the 10,000 meters, but first I have to qualify for the Ethiopian team. That is not easy.”

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