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Beijing considers hospitalising mentally ill for Olympics

Xinhua | September 16, 2006

Beijing is considering hospitalising the mentally ill, relaxing restrictions on religious services and giving businesses and factories a holiday in preparation for the 2008 Olympics.

A city newspaper and local official said the city office overseeing Olympic preparations has discussed dozens of contingency measures needed for the games.

These range from limits on the use of cars to banning the posting of handbills around the city, the Beijing Morning Post said.

Other measures discussed were shutting down heavily polluting factories to clean up the air, giving most Beijing residents a 16-day holiday to alleviate traffic and allowing foreigners to worship in groups, which is officially outlawed, although the ban is rarely enforced.

A spokesman for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Environmental and Construction Headquarters Office, which conducted the meeting, confirmed the newspaper report but stressed no decisions have been made.

"Everything is still under discussion," said the spokesman, Zhou Jiawang.

City officials and the Olympic organising committee have previously acknowledged that a host of contingency measures were being looked at to deal with pollution and traffic, and to ensure Chinese regulations comply with international norms during the Games.

But the Beijing Morning Post report was the most detailed glimpse yet of the range of issues. The newspaper also said that the city was considering hospitalising all mentally ill people and expelling many of the city's one million migrant workers.

Zhou denied that such a wide-scale expulsion order was on the table. He said reducing the numbers of migrants was proposed by one of the advisers at the meeting and that his office would issue a clarification either later today or over the weekend.

Beijing has previously enacted extraordinary measures to reduce the chances of protest or spruce up the grimy capital's appearance.

In 1993, during its failed bid for the 2000 Olympics, Beijing expelled beggars, forced the handicap to stay at home and closed smokestack industries when International Olympic Commission inspection teams visited.

 

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