11:17 AM EDT, July 19, 2012
LONDON – As he left the Main Press Center Thursday morning to check in with his opening ceremonies team, London Olympic Organizing Committee chairman Seb Coe was able to eschew a raincoat and an umbrella.
That would have required a devil-may-care dress code in London the past month.
Thursday’s mottled skies – black, white, grey and even patches of blue – over the Olympic Park were a relief from the monochromatic gloom that has left Londoners suffering through the wettest summer on record.
"This may be the first day the ceremonies team has been rehearsing without rain around," Coe said.
As an Olympic champion runner, Coe was used to competing in all conditions, from cold that required gloves to intense heat to torrential rain. "You just suck it up and get on with it," he said. "Track and field, hockey, triathlon, we tend to be sort of a hearty bunch."
As an Olympic Games organizer, Coe has to deal with the possibility of inclement weather with a much less stiff-upper-lip attitude.
“It has given us a challenge,” Coe said. “But we have contingencies in place.”
Some are routinely in place at every Olympics, such as open days in sailing and rowing in case events need to be rescheduled because of unfavorable weather.
In London, the recent planning has included putting down harder surfaces in grassy or dirt areas to prevent support vehicles from sinking into the mud.
"We will be ready to do everything we are supposed to do," Coe insisted.
Coe would not say if any parts of the July 27 opening ceremony would have to be scrubbed because of bad weather.
Rain will make things uncomfortable for most spectators at the Olympic Stadium, where the lowest (and highest-priced) seats are not covered. There is no roof over 40 percent of the seats.
Ironically, Coe said, southeast England had water use restrictions in early spring because of drought that began in the winter. The BBC reported in April "exemptions were in place for grass and surfaces used for national and international sports which means the Olympic and Paralympic games will be unaffected."
The weather forecast for the next 10 days is slightly more promising, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to low 70s, more sun and only a 10 percent chance of rain July 27.
But there is a 60 percent chance for the first full day of competition, July 28.
When it was suggested to Coe that the weather was one thing he couldn’t control or be blamed for, his response was wry.
“There are probably a cluster of people in the media who think I should,” he said.
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