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Beijing ready and calm at 10-day countdown Print

Original Text From China Daily

BEIJING - Beijing finally cooled on Tuesday as a brief heavy shower embraced the city around noon after a hot and humid week.

Flags are seen at the Huiyuan Apartment Media Village in Beijing, July 29, 2008. [Xinhua] 

The rain, though lasting only 10 minutes, will hopefully help restore confidence in the city's air quality, according to Guo Hu, Beijing Meteorological Observatory director.

"The rare lack of rain and wind to blow away accumulated emissions contributed to the city's substandard air quality," he said, admitting a number of days had failed to meet the local standard for good air quality despite the capital's car control measures.

"The temperature and humidity will gradually drop and we will have better air quality and more comfortable weather in August."

His confidence was shared by many as the city goes through every detail to fulfill the dream of billions on its 10-day countdown to the August Olympics.

Chinese athletes eyeing first gold

With the Beijing Olympic Games around the corner, eager Chinese are crossing fingers for a gold spree on home soil. Du Li, a gold medal winner in the women's 10-meter air rifle at the 2004 Athens Olympics, bears the expectation of millions to score the Game's first win.

The 26-year-old, who established a new world record for women's 10-meter air rifle in 2003 just one year after she entered the national team, further impressed the world the following year with her Athens victory.

However, the native of the eastern Shandong Province has struggled of late.

During three World Cup events this year, Du pocketed only one gold medal in the 50-meter rifle three positions, rather than in her speciality event, the 10-meter air rifle. Her second best result was a fourth.

The so-called home advantage at the upcoming Games may turn into a disadvantage for Du in defending as applause and spectators' cheers might add burden in a sport where psychological stability is most important.

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Liu Xiang (L), China's world champion 110 metre hurdler, laughs with NBA basketball player Yao Ming (C) and other teammates during the official opening ceremony for the Olympic village in Beijing July 27, 2008.[Agencies] 

Despite the difficulties, Du is eager for a good result. "Maybe this is the only chance for me to compete in the Olympic Games hosted by my own country."

Wang Yifu, the national shooting team head coach, said, "The main focus of the shooters at this point of time is the adjustment of their psychological status rather than refining technical skills."

Du and her teammates will leave for the Olympic Village on August 3.

Olympic Village in operation

The Olympic Village officially opened its gates on Sunday. By July 28, delegations and advance teams from more than 70 countries had arrived at the 66-hectare complex.

From Italian lasagna to Beijing roast duck to kosher foods, athletes from more than 200 countries and regions may find their favorite home foods in the village.

The diversity of meals, divided into different zones including Chinese, Asian, international and Mediterranean, underlines the meticulous preparation in the village that houses about 16,000 athletes, coaches and their entourages.

"The food here tastes very good and there are many entertaining facilities, including Internet bars," 20-year-old Hector Fuentes told Xinhua. The Cuban triple jumper, participating in his first Olympics, said the village had gone beyond his expectation.

Deng Yaping, the Olympic Village deputy director, said the facilities are "a place where the athletes can unwind and get to know Chinese culture. We want to give them a full experience with Chinese culture."

The table tennis legend, a winner of four Olympic gold medals, said the priority work at the village for the next 10 days was the reception of athletes from around the world.

"All sport delegations will arrive at the village before the Games start. The village is now in 24-hour operation to accommodate the guests. We will try to make every operation as smooth as possible," she said.

Ten days to perfection

A grand show will be held at 8 p.m. on Tuesday by the China Central Television to mark the 10-day countdown to the Beijing Games.

The National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, is lit by coloured lights at the Olympic Green in Beijing July 23, 2008. [Agencies] 

The first full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games was held, in secret, at the National Stadium on July 16.

Wang Chaoge, a director of the ceremony, disclosed the elements of "Sichuan" and "Wenchuan" will be embodied in tribute to the Chinese spirit manifested after the devastating May 12 earthquake that hit the southwest Sichuan Province.

He said the biggest headache for the organizers of the ceremonies was the weather, for "rain would cause delays in the progress of the event, as it would dampen performers' costumes and props."

But Beijing's meteorological departments said earlier that should there be any unfavorable weather, experts might artificially change it.

Chen Zhenlin, China Meteorological Administration (CMA) vice director, said on July 15 that meteorologists have made preparations for artificial weather modification since 2003, especially on reducing rainfall, but admitted the technology had limitations.

"Artificial weather modification could be useful when a drizzle occurs," he said. "But in case of a heavy rainfall, no one can help."

Weather statistics from 1951 to 2007 show there was a 47 percent chance of drizzle on August 8. But the possibility of heavy rain was slim, he said, adding the analysis of historical data was by no means an official weather forecast.

According to meteorologist Guo Hu, the Games opening on August 8 is one day after the first day of autumn on the Chinese lunar calendar. It is expected to be less humid.

"The temperature and humidity will gradually drop and we will have better air quality and more comfortable weather in August."

While the content of the Olympics' opening ceremony remains a guarded secret, organizers are planning to stage three dress rehearsals over the next 10 days to ensure a grand show for a live audience of 91,000.

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