My Olympic experience number three was Canoe/Kayak Slalom on 14 August. The day started out kind of damp and dreary. After a half day at the office, I met a coworker on her day off at a restaurant near Dongzhimen Station, where we had lunch before heading out to Shunyi. After eating, we hopped on the subway to get to a place where the Shunyi Olympic bus stops.
When we came out of the subway station, it was raining moderately hard, and we walked the couple blocks to the bus stop under an umbrella. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long until two buses arrived. We got on the least crowded one (we still had to stand the entire way). It takes more than an hour to get out to the Shunyi Rowing/Canoeing Centre, and it rained the entire time.
Security was pretty smooth, and they were handing out plastic raincoats just inside the gate. We grabbed a couple and made the long walk to the section where our seats were.
Almost everyone was sensibly crowded into the top half of the stands under the canopy.
The moderate rain continued through the first heat of the day, which was Men’s Two-Man Kayak.
They start in the upper right and go around clockwise. They have to pass through a series of gates, and the ones that are red have to be done backwards.
Luckily for the athletes, the rain had no impact on their performances.
After that heat finished, we had a half hour or so before the next scheduled one. The rain was coming down much harder now, and in a little while, we started seeing flashes in the sky.
After a few more announced delays as the weather continued to refuse improvement, they finally announced the cancellation of the next race. We hurried for the exit along with everyone else.
With the sudden exodus of the entire crowd, the bus system was overwhelmed. It seemed that they made no modification of the normal transportation plan to handle the changed circumstances. Each of the two bus routes had a waiting place, and people loaded onto the buses from the front of the line. The buses arrived at the whitewater area after coming from the rowing area, so they were already pretty full when they arrived. A handful of people would squeeze in, the bus would take off, and we’d wait for the next one, which was also near capacity. They brought up a couple of big empty buses, but they parked at the back and waited for all the full ones to go first. A few people got frustrated and started yelling and trying to cut in line, but police and Olympic volunteers mostly prevented that. After a long time standing in the rain, we finally got seats and headed for town. I’ll just say it was a very inefficient way to handle the situation, but it seems they had their procedure and they stuck to it.
From what I hear, we had it pretty easy compared to some of the Tennis fans, who got herded into a waiting area, unable to get in or out, and without any facilities or free raincoats while they waited to find out if the matches would happen or not.