August 10, 2006

Storms put dampener on weather hopes for Games

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's decision to move the 2008
Olympic Games back to ensure fine weather was made to look a
little unwise after heavy rainstorms hit the capital on
Thursday, almost two years to the day ahead of the opening

The Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games
(BOCOG) shifted the original start of the Games from late July
to August 8 because data gathered indicated that the chance of
rain was low.

"Weather data shows that the climate in August will be
suitable for the Games," BOCOG vice president Jiang Xiaoyu told
a news conference on Tuesday.

"Historic data shows the chance of rain is 30 to 40
percent. But they have found out that when there was rainfall,
75 percent of it was drizzle."

While Tuesday, exactly two years before the start of the
Games, was relatively pleasant, stifling humidity followed on
Wednesday before the first storm broke in the early hours of
Thursday morning.

Organizers are particularly concerned about the weather for
the opening ceremony as plans for a retractable roof over the
showpiece "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, where the Olympic
flame will be lit, were scrapped in 2004 to reduce costs.

"In the past 10 years, August 8 has been 100 percent
without rainfall," Jiang said.