Rowing canceled as skies darken over Rio Olympics

Rowers packed up their oars for the day while cyclists hit slippery roads on skinny time-trial bikes unsuited to harsh weather conditions as sun-drenched Rio turned blustery, wet and gray on Wednesday.

Strong winds rattled palm trees along the coast and whipped up waves on the scenic lagoon where rowing was canceled for a full day for the second time at the Rio Olympics.

Twenty-two races, including the first two medal races, were postponed but international rowing federation director Matt Smith said there’s still room on the schedule without having to resort to drastic measures — even if Thursday’s competition is also called off.

“If Friday morning at 10 o’clock we are sitting here, we may have to lose some races,” Smith said.

The regatta already lost a day to bad weather on Sunday, but race officials made up for it by rescheduling heats for Monday and Tuesday.

The biggest problem for rowers is not so much the rain as the wind. On Saturday, the competition went ahead despite choppy waters that left rowers struggling to keep their boats balanced.

Some athletes who struggled in the waves said the races should have been postponed, but rowing officials insisted the conditions were the same for everyone.

“It’s much more stressful when we have unfair wind,” said Smith, recalling how at the London Olympics the wind sometimes varied from lane to lane.

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Associated Press writer David Skretta contributed to this report.