Larger crowd attends run-through of Olympic opening ceremony Tens of thousands of Chinese spectators flocked to the 'Bird's Nest' last night for a rain-bothered sneak preview of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. The scaled-down trial run of the extravaganza, stripped of the parade of nations and the pyrotechnics spectacular that is expected to feature the skyline on August 8, lasted two hours and was witnessed by about 50,000 people, said Zhang Zhenpeng, a media manager at the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest. All the attendees were invited guests, and each was supposed to have signed a confidentiality agreement. No tickets were sold to the public for the dry run, and no cameras were allowed in, but security police didn't check for video-capable phones. The drill went smoothly until it began to rain at 9.30pm, 30 minutes before the scheduled end, putting the masters and the 20,000 performers to the acid test. Organising committee (Bocog) officials and ceremony designers, including leading director Zhang Yimou , have on various occasions listed the elements as the key variable to the success of the 31/2-hour opening act of the Games. Spectators had a wide range of reactions to the rehearsal. 'Everything went on as planned,' said a volunteer stadium worker. 'From what I saw, I guess they had to cut an aerial acrobatics stunt when the rain set in,' said a spectator who gave only Wang as his surname. It was the second opening ceremony rehearsal accessible to the public. The first one, two weeks ago, was seen by a much smaller crowd. Two more dry runs are planned, one on Saturday and another next Tuesday before they do it for real on the supposedly auspicious 08-08-08. Throngs of camera-wielding Beijing residents with no invitations to the rehearsal formed a pilgrimage of sorts in front of the main gate of the Olympic Green, where the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' are located, at about 6pm, two hours before the show began. But police were in place even earlier. Heavy security was seen on Beitucheng Road, on the west fringe, as early as 4pm. Thousands of policemen, paramilitary armed police and plain-clothes security guards lined the footpaths every few metres - an indication that the authorities had learned from their crowd-control nightmare at the 'Bird's Nest' box office on the same street last week. Tens of thousands had queued for the last round of tickets to events, which spiralled into total mayhem. 'We don't have an invitation, nor have we managed to buy a ticket to the Games,' said Zhang Huaxin, a university student from nearby Hebei province . 'So, this rehearsal was the only opportunity for us to get a taste of the Games.'