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Commonwealth Games 2018: Wet weather threatens opening ceremony

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Showers are predicted over the Gold Coast for the first three days of the Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty
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A tropical cyclone bearing down on Queensland’s coastline will thankfully miss the Gold Coast, but there are still concerns the city’s imminent Commonwealth Games will be marred by wet weather.

With the opening ceremony marking the beginning of the event on Wednesday night, Bureau of Meteorology forecasters are predicting rain over the Gold Coast throughout the week, up until the weekend.

“There are going to be showers that are short-lived, not widespread and moving reasonably quickly,” meteorologist Adam Blazak told The New Daily. 

Frustratingly, however, it’s near impossible to predict where the showers will hit, with Blazak saying it could be as close as two suburbs away from where the Games are being held.

“It looked pretty showery over the Gold Coast today so perhaps the activity will increase by Wednesday.”

Rain could make for an uncomfortable evening for the 35,000 spectators and 6600 athletes expected to attend Wednesday night’s opening ceremony at Carrara Stadium. It has only 5000 undercover seats.

The lack of covered venues could be an ongoing problem for organisers if the rain sets in during the 10-day event.

The Optus Aquatic Centre, where swimming events will be held, the hockey centre, the shooting centre and Robina Stadium, where the rugby will be played, are all entirely out in the open.

While spectators are able to bring umbrellas into the venues, they are not allowed to use them inside in a way that impedes the view of other spectators.

“We are addressing wet weather needs at each venue on a case-by-case basis and taking additional precautions where necessary to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment,” a spokesperson from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation told The New Daily.

“For example, we have laid additional gravel, mulch or rubber matting at some venues including the Belmont Shooting Centre and Gold Coast Hockey Centre to maintain pedestrian access and safety.

“We are working with the Bureau of Meteorology to maintain a close watch on the weather forecast and will make additional adjustments as needed.”

Games chairman Peter Beattie admitted to News Corp he was “nervous as hell” about the possibility of rain and said he was “going to pray”.

“It certainly won’t affect the swimmers because the swimmers are going to be wet anyway,” he told news.com.au.

“I really want it to be fine for opening night but I have faith.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palacszczuk was feeling more confident, telling reporters on Monday: “Down on the Gold Coast we do expect the Games to continue as normal.”

Sporting events will only be postponed if the weather compromises the safety or code of rules for the sport.

There is concern elsewhere, however, for the parts of Queensland bracing for yet another tropical cyclone after the BoM renamed ex-Cyclone Iris a tropical cyclone on Monday morning.

According to Blazak, Iris is expected to intensify to a category 2 storm by Thursday before it begins to weaken, bringing damaging wind gusts, heavy rainfall and possible flash floods along the coast from Townsville to Mackay.

“There’s still a fair bit of uncertainty with its movement beyond the next three days, at this stage it looks like it will move out into the Coral Sea,” he said.

“There’s still a risk around the central coast too that you could get showers lining up for a few hours – leading to localised flash flooding.”

A large number of the state’s emergency services personnel will be otherwise occupied on the Gold Coast, with 850 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services deployed to the area.

But a QFES spokesperson told The New Daily that that number was not in response to the wet weather concerns.

“That was always going to happen,” the spokesperson said.

The renewed warnings about Iris come after Cyclone Nora wreaked havoc on parts of the state last month, bringing flooding rain to far north Queensland.

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