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Beijing growth not foreseen by IOC

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by Daily Commercial News last update:Jul 15, 2014

The IOC had not envisaged how fast Beijing’s traffic situation would worsen, and are waiting to see the city’s plans for avoiding gridlock during the 2008 Summer Games, a senior Olympic official was quoted saying.

DOHA, QATAR

The IOC had not envisaged how fast Beijing’s traffic situation would worsen, and are waiting to see the city’s plans for avoiding gridlock during the 2008 Summer Games, a senior Olympic official was quoted saying.

Hein Verbruggen, who leads the International Olympic Committee’s co-ordination commission for the Beijing Games, said the rise in vehicle numbers had taken the IOC by surprise, but indicated it didn’t see that as an insurmountable problem.

“We have not foreseen five years ago that we would be in such a situation,” Verbruggen told China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Beijing has undergone a boom in private vehicle ownership since the Games were awarded in 2001, with about 2.8 million vehicles now clogging the capital’s roads. Massive traffic jams have become routine, despite a steady expansion of the subway and road system, and controlling gridlock is considered a key logistical hurdle for the Games.

It has been undergoing a boom in new construction and public consumption fed by China’s roaring economic growth, while at the same time trying to ramp up for the complex task of staging an Olympics.

Traffic and pollution, much of it generated by the soaring numbers of private cars and official vehicles, routinely top the IOC’s list of concerns about 2008 and were raised at an October meeting with Beijing Olympic officials.

Verbruggen said the IOC was confident Beijing would come up with a plan that worked, saying local organizers had met its Olympic commitments so far.

“We are confident because I know they will resolve it,” Verbruggen said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

last update:Jul 15, 2014

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