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AOC chief criticises Beijing about smog -

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ELEANOR HALL: It's China's big night and final preparations are being made for the Olympics Opening
Ceremony.

But on a day when it wanted to put its best face forward, the Chinese Government is dealing with
more criticism over pollution and transport hitches.

Beijing's infamous smog has settled thickly around the venues and with most of the athletes and
support crews now in the host city, travel problems are becoming apparent.

In his harshest words yet, Australia's Olympics chief, John Coates, says China has not done enough
to deal with Beijing's chronic air pollution problem.

Our Olympics reporter, Karen Barlow, is in Beijing and she joins us now.

So Karen what did John Coates say this morning about the smog?

KAREN BARLOW: He can't avoid the smog today or haze, whatever you want to call it. It was bad
yesterday and it is worse today. He was asking if China had done enough to clear the skies and this
is what he had to say.

JOHN COATES: What more they can do? This may well be permanent damage and I'm no world export ...
expert, but to have significant pollution is a problem as you have heard me say.

It isn't particularly causing us any issues and our attitude is just to get on with it. It's really
... it's the outdoor endurance sports that mainly are at risk.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates.

Karen, what are Chinese authorities saying about this increasing criticism of their pollution
problem?

KAREN BARLOW: Well, they're holding a press conference right now so we will soon hear what they
have to say today but they have been saying all along it's going to be fine.

Here we are on the day, D-day of the Olympic Games and I am out here in the Olympic precinct and I
am next to the cube. It is a little fuzzy in my vision. I am about half a kilometre away from the
Birds' Nest Stadium and that is a total blur for me at the moment.

So we'll hear very soon about what the Beijing Organising Committee has to say about what can be
done for today.

ELEANOR HALL: And tell us about the transport problems that are emerging?

KAREN BARLOW: Well, John Coates is concerned about the rowers and canoeists as they are being
driven out to the Shunyi venue. It is a 50 minute drive and it is being done in great heat and
humidity and apparently no airconditioning.

There is also some other transport problems and this is what John Coates revealed a short time ago.

JOHN COATES: Yeah and the basketball girls had a bad experience on a wrong bus or something and
they couldn't rectify it for some time. I hope all of that is sorted out now with the buses have
been operating for two weeks, going to training venues and to the venues. It's ... I hope it is under
control.

ELEANOR HALL: That is John Coates again.

So Karen, presuming that things are sorted out by this evening, are all of Australia's athletes
planning to be there at tonight's Opening Ceremony?

KAREN BARLOW: We understand 230 Australian athletes will be marching out of the total number of
443. It is basically 70 per cent of the athletes that are in the Beijing Olympic Village. It is a
greater number of athletes marching than the numbers that marched in Athens.

Australian is third last in the marching order and badminton player, Tania Luiz, is marching. She
spoke to me last night at the team reception.

TANIA LUIZ: Personally I just think I will get such a real buzz from it and a real lift. I think to
find that something extra special at the Olympics, that's what it will be.

KAREN BARLOW: That's Tania Luiz and not all the athletes, of course, are marching and it is
unfortunate. Many of them want to but it comes down to the fact that many are in the host ... other
host cities like the equestrians in the Hong Kong venue and footballers in Shanghai and there are
competitors like gymnast, Sam Simpson, who have to compete the next day.

Team officials are going to make it up to them and they are going to have an Olympic experience,
Opening Ceremony experience inside the Olympic Village.

SAM SIMPSON: Apparently they are going to have some sort of thing at the village. We will be all
sitting around watching it on TV, I'm sure.

KAREN BARLOW: Would you have wanted to, if you weren't competing the next day?

SAM SIMPSON: Yeah, if I was competing maybe two or three days afterwards, I would have thought
about it but the next day. It is about a six hour march someone told me so I don't really want to
be doing that the night before a competition.

KAREN BARLOW: Looking forward to watching it on TV?

SAM SIMPSON: Yeah, it should be good. It will be interesting to see all the festivities that
they've organised. It will be good to see them all.

ELEANOR HALL: That is gymnast, Sam Simpson.

And Karen, you've had a bit of sneak preview of tonight's festivities. You've been to the
rehearsal. What are we expecting?

KAREN BARLOW: I can honestly say it is jaw dropping. Don't tune in too late. One of the best things
is very early on. All I can is it involves a lot of drums and it's very exciting.

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Barlow in Beijing, thank you.