Challenges Arise for Winter Olympic Games

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About 55,000 people are expected at Friday evening's opening ceremonies for the 21st Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

But behind the scenes, there are plenty of worries. A star athlete is hurt and there is not enough snow for the games.

It has been unusually warm this winter in Canada's Northwest and that is making it hard for Olympic officials to get the snowboard and freestyle courses ready. Click here to hear more about Olympic ministry outreach.

A light snow fell earlier in the week, but rain is now in the forecast. So officials have been trucking in snow for the first freestyle competition to be held on Saturday.

Olympic officials and sponsors are also worried about a potential headline act, American skier Lindsey Vonn. She bruised her right shin badly in training 10 days ago. The lingering question is whether she can compete.

It's going to be very challenging, difficult. It's going to be hard," Vonn said.

Anything dimming Vonn's medal hopes could further damage prospects for the National Broadcasting Company. NBC already expects to lose millions of dollars on its Olympic coverage.

Eighty-six gold medals are up for grabs in 15 sports. Almost 5,550 athletes from 82 countries will participate. Teams from Ghana, Bahamas, Gabon and the Cayman Islands will make their debut.

Behind the scenes, Olympic officials are also tightening up security.

"We have prepared for everything from someone trying to throw a rock at an athlete to a terrorist attack," said Bertrand Paquet of the Integrated Security Unit.

Another big concern for Olympic officials is trying to insure the integrity of the games. They will be conducting more than 2,000 drug tests on athletes during the 16 days of the games.

To make matters worse, the Winter Games are usually a tough sell to American audiences with lots of obscure snow and ice sports, like curling and skeleton.

Many Americans prefer the Summer Games, especially with big stars like swimmer Michael Phelps. Outside of Vonn, there's no such main star attraction. However with the Olympics, the worldwide television audience should be able to find and cheer on a favorite.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.