Bolt hoping for double; officials hoping for good weather

Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt will go for a sprint double at the Beijing Games in a boost for Olympic athletics, it was confirmed on Sunday, dpa reported.

There was less good news for organizers as they were warned that rain could dampen Friday's proposed opening ceremony, while typhoons could cause a postponement of the equestrian and sailing events.

Zhang Qiang, the deputy director of the Beijing Weather Modification Office, said she expected rainfall over Beijing during the Games to be slightly more than normal.

"The temperature will also be slightly higher," she said.

This has left organizers fearing that Friday's opening ceremony, which has been shrouded in secrecy but is promising to be a spectacular affair, could be affected by the rain.

Wang Jianjie, deputy director of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, said there could be rainfall on the day the August 8-24 Games are officially opened.

"The weather on Friday is expected to be overcast to cloudy. There is a possibility for a periodic shower or thunderstorm. The highest temperature will reach about 30 to 32 degrees centigrade."

Organizers have said they have a plan B ready for the opening ceremony, should it rain.

It is believed that officials are considering using a technology developed by American scientists that prematurely causes rain.

Zhang of the Weather Modification Office said that the modification of clouds and rain was still at the early stages of experimentation.

"We have to distinguish between cold and warm clouds and apply the technique. When we have appropriate weather conditions, we may try such techniques as a contingency plan. We will see if certain weather conditions will affect Beijing and if we need to apply certain techniques."

But if Beijing weather officials have the option of trying to ensure a dry opening, organizers in Qingdao, where the sailing events are to be held, are more worried.

A typhoon could hit the eastern coastal city, causing some of the races to be postponed. Wang said that this would not cause huge problems as "typhoons last just a day or two. They will not last long."

Organizers in Hong Kong are similarly scared of typhoons disrupting the equestrian events, but organizers have already included spare days in case events have to be delayed or postponed.

Bolt's agent Ricky Simms, meanwhile, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the 21-year old would be running in both the 100m and 200m at the Olympic Games.

"He is the fastest in the world in both events this year," Simms said.

Bolt raised the 100m world record to 9.72 seconds on May 31 in New York and also boasts the fastest 200m time of the year with 19.67 seconds.

The phenomenal 100m time prompted Bolt and his coach Glen Mills to add the distance to the 200m he had long planned to run in Beijing.

In other news, the IOC has allowed athletes to blog their Beijing experiences on the world wide web.

The Olympic Charter prohibits any journalistic work by athletes, but since the Turin Winter Games 2006 the IOC has been forced to acknowledge a new era and allow blogging during the Olympics.

Under special IOC rules, the blog is not to contain interviews, photos and moving pictures from areas reserved for accredited people. A photo of the athlete is allowed, but not taken in an Olympic area.

Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, who finished second in the Tour de France last week, is winning his race to be fit for the Games, Australian Olympic officials said Sunday.

"Cadel is hoping to compete in the time trial and the road race," Australian Olympic supremo John Coates told a news conference five days ahead of the opening ceremony. "There is no doubt he will be coming."

Coates said that Evans was "responding especially well to treatment" and that the racer was "very keen to compete."

Also on Sunday, the Olympic flame was paraded through a city in China's Sichuan province, nearly three months after the region was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed at least 70,000 people.

The first torch bearer in Guang'an city was Jiang Min, a local man who lost 10 members of his family in the earthquake.

"Jiang moved the hearts of all the Chinese during the recent past, standing at the front lines of relief efforts even after losing 10 loved ones to the devastating earthquake," the organizers said.

The Olympic flame was scheduled to be taken to the city of Leshan in southern Sichuan for another relay leg on Monday.

China postponed the Sichuan legs of the torch relay and changed much of the schedule after suspending it for three days to mourn victims of the 8.0-magnitude on May 12.

About 20,000 people are still listed as missing after the earthquake in Sichuan, where several towns and villages were completely destroyed.

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