Woyanne forces Haile to run Beijing marathon

The Woyanne-controlled EAF is trying to force Haile Gebreselassie to run the Beijing Olympics marathon risking his health just to make the Chinese communists happy.

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Haile Gebrselassie told to obey rules

(Reuters) – WORLD record-holder Haile Gebrselassie cannot opt out of the Beijing Olympics marathon and must follow Ethiopian sports rules, the country’s athletics federation have said.

Gebrselassie, who suffers from exercise-related asthma, told Reuters this week he would not run the 42.195km event because he feared Beijing’s air pollution was a threat to his health.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said his withdrawal was fully justified and that no one could force him to compete but the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) said the decision was not his to make.

“It is not up to Haile Gebrselassie to decide on participation in the marathon event in Beijing,” EAF technical director Dube Jillo said.

“It is the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, representing the nation, that determines whether Haile is fit to compete in the marathon event in Beijing’s Olympics or not.”

The twice Olympic 10,000 metres champion, who will attempt to qualify for the 10,000 in Beijing, is one of a long list of athletes and officials to have voiced concern over pollution in the city.

Dube’s remarks on Friday seemed to contradict a statement he made on Monday saying that it would be Gebrselassie’s own choice whether to run in the marathon or 10,000m.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has said the long-distance events could be rescheduled if conditions were too bad. A BBC report quoted Gebrselassie as saying he would consider running the marathon if the venue were changed.

Gebrselassie was not immediately available for comment.

Dube said a team of doctors and officials would decide whether Gebrselassie was fit to compete in the event.

“The federation will start selection of the country’s athletic team at the end of April based on criteria to qualify, which takes athletes’ current performances and conditions into consideration,” he said.

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Beijing cools down Gebrselassie offer

(TDN) – Chinese officials poured cold water yesterday on Ethiopian world record holder Haile Gebrselassie’s offer to run in the Beijing Olympic marathon if the venue was switched.

Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said, “The course for the marathon has been fixed and there are no plans to change it,” the Agence France-Presse reported.

Earlier this week Gebrselassie, an asthma sufferer, told reporters he would skip the marathon in Beijing for fear the city’s notorious pollution could damage his health and even bring his glorious career to a premature end. But he has since appeared to relent, and was quoted saying earlier yesterday that he would consider taking part if the venue for the marathon was switched to a less polluted location.

“Beijing is a beautiful city, the marathon route is well planned, and the spectators are hospitable,” said Sun. “As for the pollution, we are confident that we can deliver good air quality for the Games.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was Gebrselassie’s withdrawal was fully justified but will otherwise have no effect on the Games.

“This was a personal choice and no one can force him to run at the event,” IOC Vice President Lambis Nikolaou told Reuters. “Considering his condition (asthma) it is totally justified but it will not have any effect on the Games themselves.”

Meanwhile, sales of game tickets have started. In Turkey, ticket purchases can be made through the Tourism and Travel Agencies Foundation (TURSAV) Web site, www.tursav.org.

The opening ceremony is the highest priced event at $245-725, while final games for basketball, football, athletics, volleyball, swimming and table tennis range between $64-128.

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