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  • Young Athletes Get Asian Games Tryout


    China is sending about 400 untried young athletes to the Asian Games in Doha as sports officials try to build a team to give their country a record medal haul at the 2008 Olympics.

    "As the Doha Asian Games will be the last large-scale international comprehensive sports meet for China, it is important that athletes and coaches collect experience for the Beijing Olympics," said Duan Shijie, vice president of the state sports administration.

    "We hope these [Doha] Games can put our youngsters to test and give them a taste of what it will be like in the Olympics," Duan said.

    Only about half of the 647 athletes picked for Qatar have experience in the last Olympic or Asian games. Despite including so many new athletes, Duan said China still aims to top the medals table for the seventh time running at an Asian Games.

    Among the Athens gold medalists absent from China's Doha team are
    10,000-meters runner Xing Huina, 100-metres breaststroke swimmer Luo Xuejuan and badminton player Zhang Jun, state media said.

    Advertising bonanza begins for Chinese TV

    China Central Television (CCTV) won a record 6.8 billion yuan ($865 million) from 180 companies at its annual auction of prime-time advertising slots. That's an increase of 16% from last year.

    US cosmetics giant Proctor and Gamble spent 420 million yuan ($53.4 million), keeping its place as CCTV's biggest customer at the auction for the third year in a row, the Beijing News said.

    Slots for Olympic-related programs were included for the first time this year, with the state-run Bank of China agreeing to pay a total of 127.7 million yuan ($16.2 million) to become sole sponsor of two Olympic programs.

    Chinese dairy produce firm Yili successfully bid 80 million yuan ($10.2 million) for the right to advertise during another Olympic show, the newspaper said.

    Global security experts offer advice

    US, British, Israeli and other international security experts met BOCOG and police officials in Beijing to discuss how to handle terrorism, organized crime, security and the "management of foreigners" during major sports events, BOCOG said.

    Liu Shaowu, BOCOG's security chief for the 2008 Games, said the city will give special security training to at least 10,000 people, including police, security guards and volunteers.

    The Ministry of National Security and the People's Liberation Army are among about 20 government agencies involved in the Beijing Olympic security plan, Liu said at the three-day security seminar.

    "We have worked out plans for any emergency, and fine-tuned the performance of our security staff during several big events," the China Daily newspaper quoted him as saying.

    Smog prompts health warning

    Thick smog blanketed many areas of northern China from November 19 earlier this week. Air pollution in Beijing reached the highest level -- "hazardous" -- and residents were advised to limit outdoor activity.

    Heavy fog in outlying areas forced the closure of sections of at least
    13 highways in Beijing and Tianjin from Sunday night to Monday, and delayed the departure of more than 80 flights from Beijing's Capital International Airport Tuesday.

    Visibility was down to 500 meters in Beijing and reportedly as little as 10 meters on some roads in Tianjin.

    The smog had dispersed by Wednesday, with colder weather and snow forecast to follow by the end of the month.

    Reported from Beijing by Bill Smith