The ‘bride’ is ready - but will rain spoil Olympic party?August 7th, 2008 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS
By Tarun Basu
Beijing, Aug 7 (IANS) This 2,000-year-old capital city, eager to present its sleek ultra modern look to the world, is all dressed up for China’s long awaited coming-out party — the 29th Olympic Games that kick off with a gala opening Friday. But in a largely atheist society, all eyes are heavenward as meteorologists say there are possibilities of rain Friday.
A cloud cover hangs like a pall over this city even as more than 200 special and chartered flights land at Beijing Capital International Airport bringing in the last of the Olympic participants and guests, and the talk everywhere is whether it will rain.
“The weather during the opening ceremony would be favourable,” China Meteorological Administration spokesperson Yu Xinwen has been quoted as saying.
In almost the same breath, he added that the city might witness scattered showers or thunderstorms Friday afternoon “but nothing that would affect the show”.
Advanced cloud-seeding technologies have been deployed to prevent rainfall but organisers are keeping their fingers tightly crossed. A sudden downpour can cut short the spectacular fireworks display planned at the National Olympic Stadium - thanks to its unique bird’s-nest architecture, rain can mar the show but not wet the guests that will include a galaxy of world leaders.
Despite the clouds, however, Beijing is a riot of colour as hundreds of gardeners have spent months preparing the ‘bride’ for the big day. Flowers are everywhere - on both sides of the 30 km airport expressway to the city, at Tian’anmen Square, the public areas and around the office and shopping plazas.
Gardener Yang Lipeng, known as the man with the green fingers, has been quoted as saying in the China Daily that this is his and other horticulturists’ “contribution to the success of the Olympics”.
Hundreds of visitors were being drawn to the giant Beijing Olympic logo in floral display at the centre of the historic Tian’anmen Square, making it the perfect backdrop for a snapshot.
The three-and-a-half hour gala will begin with the roll of the ancient Chinese drum fou. The show is divided into two parts and about 15,000 performers are expected to enthral spectators at the Bird’s Nest. Billions around the world will watch the ceremony live as China seeks to use the Olympics as a launching pad to announce its arrival on the world stage.
The 639-member Chinese Olympic team, the biggest ever, is also seeking to deliver the same we-will-show-you message - that they are a nation of world beaters. China will seek to pip the mighty United States in the medals tally and for the first time will participate in all the 28 sports in contention.
The Americans have been topping the medals table since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and narrowly beat China by four golds at the last Olympics in Athens.
Peter Ueberroth, the chairperson of the US Olympic Committee, admitted that China’s emergence had made the American sports powerhouse the “underdog” at these games.
“I know the resources and what they intend to do, and I clearly expect them to be the dominant team at the Olympics for many, many years to come,” Ueberroth said on arrival.
And this nation of 1.3 billion people, who have witnessed some dramatic events and changes in the last couple of decades, is keeping its fingers crossed that it will not only best nature but also overcome its acute sense of victimisation and redeem itself in the eyes of the world.
Tags: airport expressway, chartered flights, china daily, china meteorological administration, cloud cover, cloud seeding, friday afternoon, green fingers, national olympic, olympic logo, olympic participants, olympic party, olympic stadium, opening ceremony, pall, public areas, spectacular fireworks, sudden downpour, tarun, xinwen