Beijing wakes to smog ‘white out’

*What a disaster*

Beijing has woken up to heavy smog just one day before the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

In what can best be described as a “white out”, a thick haze is covering the Chinese capital – definitely not what the organising authorities want so close to the Games.

The smog is so thick that passers-by on the streets fail to cast shadows.

As athletes have steadily arrived over the past week, Chinese officials have downplayed the pollution issue, but it is stubbornly refusing to go away.

Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis is in Beijing and says the weather is quite oppressive.

“It looks quite thick, although it seems to me [it’s] the heat and the humidity if there’s anything causing problems, as opposed to pollution,” she said.

One thing that does seem to help is rain and some is forecast for tomorrow afternoon.

Conditions are then tipped to be favourable but mainly overcast for tomorrow night’s opening ceremony.

The Australian Olympic Committee says 230 Australian athletes will march in the opening ceremony.

The Australian flag bearer will be announced at a team reception today.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be there, along with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.

Mr Rudd will hand over the flag to the Australian chosen to lead the team into the National Stadium tomorrow.

Meanwhile the Olyroos will open Australia’s quest for gold when they meet Serbia tonight.

Captain Mark Milligan says the players have been preparing for two years and are mentally and physically ready.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/08/07/2326762.htm?section=world

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