Asian Games Roundup -- Heat, Pollution Issues; Palembang Fire

(ATR) Government considers factory shutdown before marathon... Second fire at Palembang venues. Ed Hula III reports from Jakarta

(ATR) Heat and pollution concerns have prompted the Jakarta government and Asian Games organizers to look at rearranging competition schedules and factory shutdowns.

Muhammad Buldansyah, spokesperson for the organizing committee INAGSOC, tellsAround the Rings there is most concern around staging the marathon.

"We work together with the OCA, technical delegates and local government to ensure the air quality is safe for competing," he said.

The Jakarta city government is currently exploring a shutdown of factories before the Aug. 25 and 26 marathons. That decision would have to be approved by the central government and it is unclear when it would be made, Buldansyah indicated.

"They are listening to us, to all the athletes and to the OCA," he said.

A government scheme was introduced prior to the Games encouraging residents to use mass transit instead of their personal cars.

Buldansyah said the majority of air pollution is caused by traffic: "The air quality is improving a bit. So far, when we talk to the OCA or technical delegates, they still feel this is safe to compete.

Jakarta’s air pollution is a notorious scourgeon the city. But despite this, some athletes and officials at the Asian Games say the heat is more problematic.

Sumith Edirisinghe, an Asian Hockey Federation technical official, says the heat is what concerns him, with temperatures routinely peaking well past 30 degrees and hockey matches starting at the hottest times of the day.

"A lot of Asian countries, they have the same weather,"Edirisinghe said, attempting to allay fears. And he quipped, "Asian players are stronger."

Buldansyah said as a coping mechanism, Asian Games organizers will consider re-arranging competition schedules for player safety.

Palembang Fire

A fire broke out next to the sports complex in Palembang being used for the Asian Games. Palembang, some 600 kilometers north of Jakarta, is the secondary host of the Asian Games.

Games spokesman Buldansyah said the fire started on August 21, butconfirmed there was "no damage" to the venues.

Before the Asian Games opened, a fire broke out at the velodrome - also in Palembang. Buldansyah said that incident gave the local firefighters experience to swiftly handle the second fire at the sports complex.

Coverage of the 18thAsian Games is made possible in part by the Olympic Council of Asia

Reported by Ed Hula III in Jakarta

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