Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Olympic committee's about-face in Beijing

Olympic etiquette dictates that you don't diss your host country. So in August, when four U.S. cyclists disembarked from their plane in Beijing wearing masks to guard against the city's notorious air pollution, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) demanded that the athletes apologize to the Chinese. The only problem was that the masks had been provided to the cyclists by the USOC itself. That's right. The USOC forced athletes to apologize for wearing gear it had specifically designed for them and recommended they wear. The cyclists said the negative encounter, which took place three days before the Games started, prevented them from performing their best and earning any medals. In September, the USOC sent a letter to the athletes, acknowledging it had mishandled the situation.