Changing China

Giant on the move

A little drizzle won’t frazzle Olympic ceremony (Update)

August 4, 2008


Olympic organisers are praying that it doesn’t rain on the athletes’ parade at next Friday’s opening ceremony, but a little drizzle might in fact add some fizzle to the lavish show.

“The lighting effects will be more beautiful with a bit of rain,” said Yves Pepin, a French hi-tech wizard, who is a senior member of the creative team for the 3-1/2 hour extravaganza.

What the team fears is the sort of deluge that can batter the Chinese capital during August. “If it rains a lot then life will get very difficult. We have a plan B if this happens and some parts of the show will have to be downsized, although not cut altogether,” said Pepin, giving nothing more away.

With this in mind, a long range weather forecast released on Sunday provides some hope — there is a 41 percent chance of rain on Aug. 8, but a prolonged drenching is unlikely, according to Beijing’s Meteorological Bureau.

Even if it does rain, most of the 91,000 spectators in the Bird’s Nest will be fine thanks to a broad roof that extends over the seating area. The athletes and performers aren’t quite so lucky because plans for a fully retractable roof were abandoned to save costs, which means the arena is exposed to the elements.

In the nation that invented gunpowder, fireworks look certain to play a major role in the opening and closing ceremonies, but here too, the Chinese are quietly confident that their plans won’t be blown apart by the weather.

“With modern firework techniques, our firework display will not be affected by rain,” said Wang Yubin, deputy chief engineer at the Meteorological Bureau.

PHOTO: Fireworks light the sky as part of a general rehearsal for the opening ceremony for the Olympic games August 2, 2008 REUTERS/Jason Lee

UPDATE: I’ve added a video of the fireworks. Check it out below:


Great picture!


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