Although there had been some speculation for quite some time, Ethiopian marathoner and double Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 meters race, Haile Gabreselassie announced that he
won’t might be forced to might not participate in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics, due to his asthma. He’ll still make the trip to Beijing to compete in his best event, the 10,000 meters race. The 10,000 meters race is four times shorter than the marathon and it will take place during the late afternoon, which Gabreselassie find more appealing.
Although she has yet to make a final decision, the world’s number one tennis player and defending Olympic gold medalist, Justine Henin, has also said that she might skip the big show this August. She also has problems related to her asthma. Henin also withdrew from the Beijing Open tennis tournament last summer due to her asthma.
While Gabreselassie’s announcement came after weeks of speculation and Henin expressed doubt about her participation in late 2007, another athlete was recently added to the list of potential party poopers – Andy Roddick. Deciding that the U.S. Open tennis tournament is more important, Andy Roddick announced that he will not go to Beijing. Thankfully for the organizers, the occasionally blunt and candid American did not cite pollution as the cause of his withdrawal. He’d just rather play for himself rather than his country.
Gabreselassie claims that more athletes will follow his lead by withdrawing. According to the International Olympic Committee, the pollution would most likely affect athletes from urban road cycling, mountain bike, marathon, triathlon and road walking events.