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Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 16:10 UK

Storm disrupts Olympic build-up

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Freak weather conditions disrupted preparations in Hong Kong

A storm caused the suspension of training for British athletes and disrupted preparation for the Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong.

Tropical storm Kammuri brought heavy rain and strong winds to Macau, where Team GB's holding camp is based.

British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton said the squad was told to stay inside.

Meanwhile, the arrival of two planes carrying 24 show jumping horses from China, America and the United Arab Emirates was delayed.

BBC's Clare Balding was caught in storm

All are expected to arrive in Hong Kong, ready for the competition which starts on Saturday, as soon as the weather clears.

Almost 400,000 people have been evacuated in southern China and thousands of vessels ordered to return to port, state media says.

Leung Wing-mo, a senior scientific officer with the Hong Kong observatory, said the storm would "weaken gradually by Saturday".

"If anything, a trough of low pressure will just bring showers."

Sotherton, a bronze medallist in Athens four years ago, said the conditions were frustrating for the athletes.

"We can't leave the hotel because when there's a typhoon at this Level 8 all the transport is cancelled, so unfortunately we are all holed up in a hotel," she said.

OLYMPICS BLOG
Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes
"It's similar to a hurricane and it's not as bad as it has been but it's torrential rain and high winds.

"We are right by the coast so the sea is very rough. I think there are a lot of people bouncing off the walls already here.

"You can't do anything about it, but it's something that happens and affects everybody. I'm not too bothered about it because I could do with the day off."

A Team GB spokesman said contingency plans had been made in case of bad weather.

"It's not a huge issue. It was something that was accounted for," said Graham Newsom.

"We're making the best use of the indoor facilities and some sports have decided to use this as a rest day so they have shuffled their schedules a little bit."

The storm brought disruption to the area, shutting offices, courts and financial markets. The wet weather also closed outdoor equestrian training facilities.

Rain and wind casts a cloud over Olympic preparations
Rain and wind casts a cloud over Olympic preparations
"The main problem will be the fact everyone has to stay indoors," said the BBC's Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes in Hong Kong.

"Horses like a bit of outside space and if they cannot be exercised properly, they could get restless and agitated."

Team GB vet Jenny Hall said all the horses were very calm.

"It's a little bit noisy in the stables because there were some trees banging against the walls but it's comfortable in there and the horses are all peaceful," she told BBC equestrian presenter Clare Balding.

"It has meant that they weren't able to train this morning (Wednesday) and that presents a few new challenges along with the challenges we already had with the heat and the humidity.

"I've heard the storm is due to have disappeared by the end of today - so the eventing should still start on time on Saturday morning.

"There are days built into the schedule to allow for typhoons and there are two more forecast before the end of August so the team will have to remain adaptable. "


see also
Olympic relay in Beijing climax
06 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Bechtolsheimer aims for top five
04 Aug 08 |  Equestrian
Maher jumping at Olympic chance
09 Jul 08 |  Equestrian
Britons held in Beijing protest
06 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific


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