Haile Gebrselassie says he will not run in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics over fears about the high pollution levels in the city. The Ethiopian marathon world record holder, who suffers from asthma and missed the 2007 London Marathon because of the problem, will now run at the shorter distance of 10,000m in Beijing.
"The pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run 42km in my current condition," Gebrselassie said. "But I am not pulling out of the Olympic event in Beijing all together. I plan to participate in the 10,000m event."
News of the development is struggling to reach audiences in China, where transmissions of BBC World were mysteriously suspended when the station relayed the story.
Last year Britain's Paula Radcliffe, who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, called in pollution experts to help her plans to run in the Games marathon.
"I’m not frightened of racing in Beijing,” Radcliffe said. “The heat, the humidity and the pollution is something that you simply have to adapt to, and it is something that I have to have under control.
"But it will be tough for everyone. If you are in good shape and you acclimatise properly, then you will run well.”
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