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  • Morning Swim Finals for Beijing Olympics


    (ATR) Morning finals for swimming and gymnastics are certain for the 2008 Olympics, says the chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2008 Games.

    The IOC denied that the finals were moved after pressure from broadcasters and said the controversial changes reflected "the best balance for the Olympic movement as a whole".

    "Of course you listen to the wishes of the broadcasters, and what comes out of that is a compromise," IOC Coordination Commission chairman Hein Verbruggen told reporters.

    "It has always been like this, the schedule is always the result of a thorough consultation process," he said, pointing to changes in events schedules for previous games in Seoul, Atlanta, Athens and Sydney.

    The swimming finals and most gymnastics finals will be held in the morning, with evening finals for individual apparatus gymnastics. Track and field finals, except for the marathon, will take place in the evening, Verbruggen said.

    Australian and European broadcasters lodged a protest in August over the planned changes to the swimming finals schedule.

    They complained that the changes were being proposed to allow US television audiences to see the finals during prime time broadcasts but that Europeans would have to get up as early as 4 a.m. to watch the events.

    Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates, who had opposed the move for swimming, said he tried to convince IOC President Jacques Rogge to consider the effect of the change on athletes.

    "We expressed a concern for the well being of the athletes having to swim heats late at night and then returning to the pool the following morning to swim finals.

    "After evening heats swimmers need to warm down and possibly do a drug test before returning to the Village, this makes it a very late night," said Coates.

    "Our swimmers are professional athletes and with the help of head coach, Alan Thompson and his team, we are confident they will now focus on getting the job done in Beijing," said the statement from Coates.

    With reporting in Beijing by Bill Smith.

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