A British summer is not complete without a downpour or three, and despite July having fewer rainy days than others months in London, it could yet be as damp as ever for the summer months. Which begs the question, could the Games be a wash-out?
For London’s 2012 Organising Committee, the record so far does not look promising. The jubilee weekend saw as many umbrellas as royalists, and the usual raindrops at Wimbledon have been torturing the likes of Andy Murray. Many Olympic test events have been soaked too.
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The last time London held the Olympics, in 1948, rain did indeed affect the events: gymnastics was held in Earl’s Court instead of on the Wembley turf as originally planned, owing to heavy rain. George Weedon, who competed for Great Britain, described it as “an absolute shambles.”
In more recent memory, the Beijing Olympic organizers had the luxury of controlling the weather with cloud-seeding technology. The government authorized the use of missiles containing silver iodide which worked to disperse the rain ahead of the opening ceremony – a first for the Olympics, and something possibly being considered by Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
Organisers are confident that such measures won’t be needed this summer. Speaking with Reuters, Debbie Jevans, the director of sport for LOCOG, said: “By definition, being British you have no choice but to prepare for the weather,” adding that all of the sports will happen come rain or come shine.
True to their word, planners have arranged for various contingency measures, including supplying around 250,000 red,white and blue ponchos on standby across the venues if the heavens were to open. Ticket holders can also purchase Olympic-branded umbrellas inside the venues.
Even the Olympic torch has been made weather-proof. Engineers have designed it such that it withstands temperatures of 23F to 104, as well as rain, snow and wind speeds of up to 35 mph.
For those competing, it’s a slightly different story. It only looks like events such as BMX and tennis would need to be rescheduled in the event of rain. Many others will go ahead in spite of it. For those doing endurance events, such as marathon runners, a bit of rain could be welcome, but for the likes for the throwers and sprinters, it could spell disaster.
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The outlook however, based on the U.K. Met Office’s climatology information for each of the Olympic venues, holds hope for spectators and competitors alike: based on averages recorded over a 30-year period between 1971-2000, temperatures in the capital look to be around the high 60F and rainfall is expected only for around 10 days per month. Still, the grey clouds that seem to be permanently parked over London’s skies at the moment are ominous.