Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- A long expected rainfall sprinkled on most parts of Beijing on Tuesday and breezes began to blow away some of the haze and heat, though the sky above the Olympic host city was still more gray than blue.
The precipitation averaged 4 millimeters in Beijing between 8 pm on Monday and 6 am on Tuesday, but the Qinglongqiao community close to the Summer Palace on the city's northwestern outskirts received 82 millimeters, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said.
"For the first time in a week, we can see clearly through our office windows the hills in the west of Beijing," said a meteorologist surnamed Zhang in a telephone interview with Xinhua.
He said the rain, plus a mild north wind blowing at around 3 meters per second, would certainly dispel the dust and haze overcasting Beijing over the past week.
"I'm certain the air quality will be good today and the high temperature will not exceed 30 degrees Celsius," said Zhang.
He attributed the rain and wind to the subtropical high pressure from the east and the impact of Typhoon Fung Wong that landed in Fujian Province late on Monday and is moving northwest on Tuesday. "We might expect thunder shower again on Wednesday night."
A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official also played down concerns about Beijing's air quality, saying that the possibilities of rescheduling outdoor endurance events would be low.
"Now, we don't feel it necessary," said IOC's Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli.
He added that the IOC would continue to monitor the air quality and take decisions accordingly, and expected the air quality to be up to par with more rainfall in the coming days.
Beijing has been working hard to curb pollution and keep its sky blue for the Games opening on Aug. 8. After it relocated a steel giant, sealed off a long fleet of government vehicles and halved the number of private cars on its roads, good weather was all it could hope to make the city more appealing to the influx of foreign athletes, coaches, officials, journalists and other Olympic visitors.
"It feels really good to see the Bird's Nest so clearly in the distance," said Alex, a staffer with NBC's Today Show, as he took a media bus to the Olympic Main Press Center Tuesday morning. He plans to buy a bike to tour Beijing.
ATHLETES IN TRAINING
More foreign delegations have checked in at the Athletes' Village since it opened on Sunday. The national flag of Benin was raised amid the drizzle on Tuesday morning.
"I have never seen such a beautiful Olympic Village," head of the Swiss Olympic delegation Werner Augsburger said. "The Village is very charming, with trees and lawns everywhere and lots of gathering places for the athletes."
All the Beijing Games facilities have opened to athletes for training by Tuesday, including the Bird's Nest and Water Cube.
The British diving team were among the first to train in the National Aquatic Center, or the Water Cube, on Tuesday. "The venue is fantastic," said Britain's diving prodigy Tom Daley. "Everything's going well."
Daley, 14, is the youngest diver to compete at the Beijing Games. He will compete in the men's 10 meters platform, both individual and synchronized.
"Daley's performance is on a high level and quite consistent," said Steve Foley, team leader of the British diving team. "He's very excited about the Games. But it's hard to say what result he will get -- he's still too young."
Foley and his team spoke highly of the Water Cube. "Compared with the World Cup, it's more colorful and beautiful now. The atmosphere is more exciting."
As the British and Romanian teams trained for the Games on Tuesday morning, people were still making last minute preparation and check-ups at the stadium, with volunteers cleaning the pools and ventilation outlets, press assistants being trained and computers and printers being tested.
The Olympic fencing venue near the Main Press Center opened for training on Sunday, and received the first team of athletes on Tuesday -- the Romanians.
"It's very spacious, and the facilities are very good," said Saliscan Virgil, who will take part in the men's foil, on the sidelines of the training.
He did point a finger, however, to the low indoor temperature. "I feel a bit cold." Site officials said the temperature was "up to international standards" for fencing facilities.