What if it rains during the Olympics?

Following meetings to predict how much London 2012 could be adversely affected by the dismal weather now ruining the British summer.

After a concert in Hyde Park in  London was cancelled with just 24 hours’ notice because the muddy site was declared unfit, Games organisers are drawing up plans to deal with the impact of heavy rain on competitors and spectators.

Organisers have considered how far the river Thames would have to rise before the rowing lake at Eton Dorney was affected and how well the mountain biking course in Essex and the BMX track in the Olympic Park will cope with days of rain.

Orders are being placed for thousands of ponchos for spectators queuing to get through security, and the rescheduling of hockey and beach volleyball matches is being considered in the event of violent storms.

Many temporary venues, including hockey in the Olympic Park, beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade and showjumping in Greenwich Park, are open to the elements. The main stadium, which has a capacity of 80000, is only two-thirds covered by a roof.

Reasonably weatherproof
The sports minister, Hugh Robertson, said the government had been reassured that most of the venues were “reasonably weatherproof”.

Three years ago London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, lobbied unsuccessfully for the Olympic Stadium roof to be extended.

“I have yet to see a very convincing explanation of what happens if it rains heavily on the night of the opening ceremony,” he said.

Some of the wettest spectators would be those who have paid the most for their tickets – up to £2012 for the opening ceremony and £725 for the 100m final. Spectators seated further back are more likely to be covered by the PVC roof.

“The Thames would have to rise a huge amount before the rowing is under threat, the mountain biking is up a mountain and if it’s a bit muddy it doesn’t matter, the canoeing is in an artificial venue, the football pitches shouldn’t be a problem,” said Robertson.

Unpredictable weather is only adding to logistical and transport concerns over the final week of the torch relay and the opening ­weekend of the Games, when the organisers will have to deal with larger than normal crowds in the capital. – © Guardian News & Media 2012

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Owen Gibson
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