VANCOUVER - With one eye on the weather, the International Olympic Committee opens a series of meetings today to examine the last-minute preparations for the Vancouver Winter Games and deal with doping and ethics cases and future Olympics.
The IOC executive board's two-day meeting comes amid unseasonably warm conditions that have led to special contingency measures to protect the snow at the snowboard and freestyle skiing venue at nearby Cypress Mountain.
The IOC is monitoring the weather but remains confident the Games, which open next weekend, will not suffer.
"We are in a world with uncertain meteorology - we have to adapt to it," IOC president Jacques Rogge said recently. "There is a permanent contingency planning for the entire duration of the Games. If there would be too much snow or not enough snow, we will act on that."
John Furlong, head of Vancouver organising committee VANOC, will report on the weather contingencies and other planning issues to the IOC board tomorrow.
Local organisers have said they will eliminate two days of halfpipe training at Cypress Mountain to protect the competition area. Athletes will now have three days of training instead of five. The halfpipe is scheduled to begin on February 17.
Cypress, which is just north of Vancouver, has experienced the warmest January on record, forcing organisers to bring in snow from across the province. There is plenty of snow, meanwhile, in the Whistler area, where the Alpine and Nordic events will take place.
Away from Vancouver matters, the IOC board will also examine a new United States doping case that could lead to the stripping of gold medals from the women's 4x400 relay team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Crystal Cox, who ran in the preliminaries, admitted using anabolic steroids and accepted a four-year suspension and disqualification of her results from 2001 to 2004, according to the US Anti-Doping Agency.
- APBy Stephen Wilson