Will weather play spoilsport?

2013-01-19 00:00

A SEVERE weather warning has put today’s opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations at risk.

With a cold front moving east and a warm front moving west, the two weather patterns are expected to collide over Gauteng this afternoon, and the possibility of violent weather has been confirmed by the South African Weather Service putting the region on “severe” alert.

While yesterday’s Johannesburg weather was far from pleasant, by last night there were no signs of rainfall heavy enough to cause the flash floods that have been feared to plague the opening day of Afcon at the National Stadium in Soweto today.

The Weather Service issued a warning yesterday that Johannesburg could expect to be hit by flash floods both yesterday and today.

And while it is still all systems go for today, event organisers have admitted they are worried that violent storms and torrential downpours could cause problems for today’s 4 pm opening ceremony, as well for as the two matches that are due to be played on the same pitch at the National Stadium.

With a potential storm unlikely to put off any of the 88 000 fans who have bought tickets for the 6 pm kick-off against Cape Verde, Afcon’s local organising committee (LOC) confirmed yesterday that umbrellas would be banned at the stadium.

“We are banning umbrellas for safety and security reasons because they could be seen as hazardous,” LOC media officer Sipho Sithole told Weekend Witness by

e-mail yesterday.

There are also concerns that the weather might see the fan parks in and around Johannesburg abandoned.

The city’s major fan park at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown is set to have big screens erected for fans without tickets, but yesterday afternoon, construction workers were left in limbo as they waited on word to proceed with the building.

“We don’t know what’s going on. We are waiting for permission from the bosses to go ahead,” said one of the site workers who chose to remain anonymous.

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