Accessibility links

US Delegation Cautioned Not to Flaunt Victories at Athens Olympics - 2004-08-14

The 28th Olympiad opened in Athens Friday, under tight security.

More than 10,000 athletes from 202 national delegations are in Athens under the tighest security ever. Thousands of police officers, backed by Greek soldiers on the water, in the skies and on the ground are looking, listening and keeping watch over athletes and spectators throughout Olympic venues. There's also security you can't see, such as the NATO AWACS intelligence command and control planes flying miles above the blimps - and heavily armed American, British and Israeli special forces, whose presence has been widely reported, but never officially confirmed. The 531 member American delegation has been cautioned to tone down any celebrations. Dennis Hall, an American Greco Roman wrestler understands why this is not the time to flaunt victories.

"We don't need to be showing off, you know there's a lot of countries out there that aren't too fond of us right now, so I think you've just gotta be smart, and you know, show the rest of the world that we are gracious winners or gracious losers," he says.

American athletes have been coached for months on how to compete in front of hostile anti-American crowds. But Jimmy Pedro, who won a bronze for Judo in Sydney four years ago, says if he medals in Athens, keeping a low profile may be hard.

"Wrap yourself in the American flag. Hold it high over your head. I mean, you won the gold medal baby," he says.

Dignity, discretion and security - all will be tested over the next two weeks at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games.