Locusts Descend Upon Beijing Summer Olympics

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With the Summer Olympics only weeks away, the host city of Beijing, China, has been working around the clock to deal with various plagues. First came the dreaded Red Tide Horror and now comes word that locusts have descended upon the region.

``There's an old saying in China that good things only come after enduring a lot of hardship,'' Jiang Xiaoyu, vice president of the Beijing organizing committee, said yesterday in Beijing. ``We expected to face many challenges so it's not a surprise. These issues aren't major problems.''

Okay, but locusts?

According to a Bloomberg report, the northern province of Inner Mongolia has mobilized 33,000 people to repel swarms of locusts, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The locusts have come within 430 kilometers (267 miles) of Beijing and infested an area of 1.3 million hectares (5,000 square miles). Beijing organizers said they are in contact with Inner Mongolian officials to monitor the situation and discuss contingency plans. Cooler-than-usual weather means the hatching of locust eggs in the areas closest to Beijing has been delayed until late July or August. ``Trials and tribulations serve to revitalize a nation,'' said Peng Zaiwei, a Shenzhen resident who has tickets for the swimming events in Beijing and is visiting the capital to look after his pregnant daughter. Six months of bad news haven't diminished residents' faith that the games will be a success. ``The trials are problems which could have happened anytime -- before or after the Olympics,'' said Mu Zhanquan, who works in the capital's central business district. ``But my confidence in a successful Beijing Olympics won't erode."

Locusts are the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae. These are species that can breed rapidly under suitable conditions and subsequently become gregarious and migratory. They form bands as nymphs and swarms as adults - both of which can travel great distances, rapidly stripping fields and greatly damaging crops.

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