Training area for the athletes to compete in the Olympic sailing competition in August is now clear from the algae invasion in the host city of Qingdao.
"If the weather is cooperative, athletes are able to complete their sailing course at the training areas now," said Yuan Zhiping, assistant of the Chairman with the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Committee, said at a press conference on Saturday.
The official also reassured the invading algae, called enteromorpha prolifera, would be wiped out at the competition area before July 15.
"Actually, I hope the cleaning can complete ahead of the schedule, so that the athletes will have more time to get used to the competition venue," said Yuan.
Thousands of soldiers and volunteers are still cleaning the bright green weeds, which was first spotted at the end of May and started to bloom in mid-June. Inflatable barriers have also been placed near the coastline to prevent the algae from encroaching on the shore.
According to an emergency headquarters set up to clean the algae, its coverage in the sailing competition areas, which span more than 50 square kilometers, had shrunk from 32 percent five days ago to less than 10 percent by Friday.
But an aerial survey shows 339 square kilometers of the green growth floating along the shoreline of the city and parts of the Yellow Sea, authorities said.
The algae also covered part of the training area, where sailors from 26 countries and regions are training, and the algae sometimes blocked sailing routes and affected preparations for the Games.
Sailors said they had to stop during training to clean the algae off their boats.
The sailing competitions are scheduled from August 9 to 23.
Experts from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) are working to determine the source and cause of the algae outbreak.
The SOA was monitoring the route of the algae flow into the Olympic venue with current bottles. Experts dropped 80 bottles in the water around the venue after the bloom was spotted.
They concluded some algae was from the waters of Rizhao and Jiaonan to the south of Qingdao.
(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2008)