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Friday, August 8, 2008

Citing Poor Conditions, China Refuses To Send Delegation To Olympics

In an 11th-hour move that shocked the international athletic and political communities alike, the Chinese Olympic Team announced Wednesday that it will not be attending the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing due to "shocking, shameful, and ultimately dangerous environmental conditions" in the host city.

"Given the unconscionably bad environmental state of the area in and around the site of the 2008 Summer Games, we cannot in good conscience allow Chinese athletes to compete in China," said Olympic committee spokesman Sun Weide. "We deeply apologize to China for the bitter disappointment they will feel at not being represented in these Games. However, we place the blame squarely on China for their failure to prepare a suitable venue for international competition."

"Frankly, it seems to me that in terms of air quality, water purity, and general contamination, Beijing is barely even capable of supporting human life, let alone strenuous activities such as team sports, swimming, and long-distance running," added Weide, who has lived in Beijing all his life. "We can only hope our refusal to compete in this city will result in real change for its long-suffering residents."

Weide's sentiments were echoed by other high-ranking members of China's Olympic athletic community.

"China's Olympic athletic community should be deeply ashamed of itself," said Zhang Tianbai, deputy director of the PRC's Athletic Sciences and Education Department and director of China's Olympic Committee. "When factories have to be shut down for a month beforehand just to clear the air, when automobile traffic is artificially thinned to reduce smog, when thousands of uniformed men have to dredge the river mere days before the regatta, in a city that is supposed to be the pride of a nation and the athletic center of the world for two weeks—disgusting is not too strong a word."

Director Tianbai joined Li Furong, vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, in calling for the immediate resignation and possible indictment of the entire Chinese Olympic Committee.

The 639 athletes chosen to represent China were informed Wednesday night that they would not in fact be competing in Beijing. Although all were shocked at the suddenness of the decision, most took the news stoically.

"I was very much looking forward to making China proud," said 100-meter hurdling champion Liu Zhang, who had expected to defend his gold medal in Beijing. "But, if I am honest, China should be ashamed of itself."

"I shall regret this for the rest of my life, but I think the current conditions Beijing are currently worse than the ones I encounter in my polluted, petroleum-fume-choked home town," said Rockets center Yao Ming, easily the team's most prominent athlete. "Which is Beijing. Things have gotten even worse since I moved."

"It brings me great sorrow to say this, as I had hoped that Chinese athletes would return from Beijing triumphant, having demonstrated our nation's greatness on a global stage," Hu Jintao, president and paramount leader of the People's Republic of China. "However, China's blatant disregard for its responsibility to the basic health, welfare, and safety of its Olympic participants has forced us to withdraw China's athletes for their own protection, and I urge the Olympic teams of all other nations to do the same."

China's Olympic team will spend one last night in their Olympic quarters before returning Friday to Beijing, where they will resume training for next year's Pan-American Games.

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Watch the Olympics Online

The 2008 Beijing Olympics get underway Friday, August 8, 2008
The 2008 Beijing Olympics get underway Friday, August 8, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Olympics will happen while most Americans are sleeping. While NBC, the games' official media outlet in the United States, will be providing thousands of hours of content on the web, the only way to truly ensure you won't miss too many record-breaking moments is to spread yourself across the web and take advantage of the many video outlets online.

With opening ceremonies kicking off Friday, August 8, we have compiled a list of online destinations for getting your fix of the summer sporting events.

This article is a wiki. Got extra advice? Log in and add it.

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Boy, 11, fires ace in just his 3rd time golfing

N.D. boy, 11, golfing for just his 3rd time, gets a hole-in-one on 150-yard, par-3 hole
By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer | AP

(BISMARCK, N.D.) Golfing for just the third time, 11-year-old Allan Saylor was whacking the ball around with a friend, not even keeping score. A hole-in-one? No big deal. The sixth-grader fired the ace Wednesday on the 150-yard, par-3 sixth hole at the neighboring Mandan Municipal Golf Course, using a driver borrowed from his buddy.

He said the shot felt good at contact.

"It was a pretty low shot, a pretty flat drive," he recalled. "It probably rolled about 10 feet and the rest of it was in the air. It was probably one of my farthest shots."

Allan, whose favorite hobbies have been pheasant hunting and football, said he let out a "whoop" and high-fived his friend, 11-year-old Ethan Luck, when he saw the ball disappear in the hole. But the boys didn't think much more about it.

They were milling about the clubhouse waiting for a ride home when golf pro Patrick Wingard asked about their day at the course.

A group playing a hole ahead of the boys also witnessed the ace. The talk of it had just begun to spread when Allan and his friend finished up.

"I don't think they really thought it was a big deal," Wingard said. "I asked him if he knew what he just did, and he said, 'Not really.'"

Allan was mum about his hole-in-one when he got home, and never told his mom, Karen, about it.

"I didn't even know what a hole-in-one was," she said. "We're not golf people."

Wingard said an ace hasn't been scored at the course's sixth hole in at least the three years he's been a pro there.

"There's a bunker on right and a bunker on the left, so he had to thread the needle, so to speak," Wingard said. "It's a good little par-3."

Even pros like himself find aces elusive, he said.

"I'm 46 years old and I've been playing since I was four and I've never made a hole-in-one, and I've made a lot of money playing golf," Wingard said.

Ethan said he was happy for his friend but wished it had been him.

"He used my brother's club and my old bag," Ethan said. "I play a lot and it was only his third time."

Still, he said he was in awe of his friend's feat.

"He hit it all the way to the green, it hit the fringe and rolled in," Luck said. "It was cool."

Wingard said it was impressive that the youngster was able to drive the ball to the green, even from the women's tee box.

"For one of these pint-size guys to make contact with a driver and hit it 150 yards," the golf pro said. "That's pretty good."

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