Flights Will Be Grounded During Olympics Opening Ceremony

BEIJING: Flights to and from Beijing will be grounded during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on August 8, state media said Friday, in the latest security measure to hit China’s capital.

“Airports and airlines have already received a notice that in order to guarantee the security of the Olympics, they have to ban flights according to the demands of the Civil Aviation Authority,” the Beijing News said.

From 7:59 pm (1159 GMT) on August 8 to midnight, all flights to and from Beijing Capital Airport and Nanyuan airport in the south of the city would be grounded, the newspaper said.

Some of the flights would be moved to earlier or later slots while others have been cancelled, the report said.

The no-fly zone is the latest in a series of increasingly stringent safety measures aimed at reinforcing security in the capital ahead of and during the Olympic Games.

Dozens of heads of state including US President George W. Bush are expected to attend the opening ceremony.

Authorities in Beijing have warned of an unprecedented terror threat to the Olympics, particularly from its Muslim Xinjiang region in the northwest, and have said the security of athletes and tourists is their top priority.

A commentary in the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily newspaper, last weekend also warned of the security threat from Xinjiang and Tibet.

“The Beijing Olympics is facing a terrorist threat unsurpassed in Olympic history,” it said.

Critics, however, say that China’s communist rulers are exaggerating the security threat to clampdown on any form of protest during the Olympics.

– AFP/yb

Channel News Asia

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