Canberra, August 8 : A thick smog haze and rain are threatening to ruin tonight's Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing, China.
According to a report by Fox Sports, the haze has reduced visibility around the Olympic Village in the north of Beijing to just several hundreds metres and the weather forecast on the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee's official website shows a grey cloud with rain falling from it for today.
Organizers have repeatedly said that rain is their biggest worry ahead of tonight's opening ceremony, which features more than 10,000 performers and a massive fireworks display.
Scientists had already warned China two years ago that it could not guarantee a smog-free Olympics despite its efforts to cut pollution. Chinese and US experts wrote in the online edition of the Journal of Atmospheric Environment in October 2006 that prevailing winds, geography and emissions from outlying regions would keep skies hazy.
Chris Nielsen, executive director of Harvard University's China Project had said last week that China was far behind developed nations in addressing air pollution.
"The notion that Beijing could have made its air permanently clean in seven years from the day it was awarded the Olympics was always a pipe dream," he was reported as saying.
Nielsen claimed that even if Chinese scientists tried cloud-seeding to clear the air, the process would not reduce ozone and ozone "precursors", including hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
Melbourne climatologist Blair Trewin, with the National Climate Centre, said that the problem was most acute when the wind blew from the south.
Unfortunately for athletes and spectators, the forecast for the next few days is hot and humid with southerly winds.
According to Dr Trewin, an amateur long-distance runner, "It's certainly not conditions I fancy running a marathon in."