US team told to keep cool

Slammed in the past for being too exuberant, the US Olympic team have been told to act with decorum at tonight’s opening ceremony for the Athens Games. With world opinion still divided over last year’s US-led invasion of Iraq, US team leaders say they realize they have a problem and that American athletes might be booed at tonight’s parade of national teams and in the sports action that follows. «I can’t control how other people see us. There have been decisions made beyond our control,» said Dawn Staley, a women’s basketball team member and two-time gold medalist who has been elected to carry the American flag at the opening ceremony. «I love my country. I am a proud American. I will [carry the flag] with dignity,» she told a news conference. Staley said she believed she was elected to be flag bearer for the 538-member US team because of what she did off the field – she runs charities to help poor youths in her native Philadelphia. The US team will march into the Olympic Stadium in rows of eight but whether they will break into chants of «USA, USA» is an open question. US Olympic Committee’s Chief Executive Jim Scherr said the team had been told to act with dignity, but added, «They have not been told what to chant.» How the Americans, the largest team competing at the Games, will be received has been a burning question in Athens. Scherr said there had been no problems at the Olympic Village. But he and others acknowledge security is a concern and while there is no shortage of Americans in Athens, many are behaving in as low-key a manner as possible. (Reuters)

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