A tattered U.S. flag from the World Trade Center will be raised over the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake City Winter Games, Friday night. However, the flag will not be carried into the Olympic Stadium behind the U.S. team, as the athletes originally proposed.
The American flag found in the rubble of the World Trade Center has been to Afghanistan. It was raised at the World Series at Yankee Stadium and at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. The tattered banner, which was missing 12 stars and was covered in ashes when it was found, has become a symbol of American resolve since the terrorist attacks.
It was originally suggested six members of the U.S. delegation carry the flag into the Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday night. However, The International Olympic Committee said that it had not agreed to a change in the ceremony protocol and suggested instead that the flag be raised during the U.S. national anthem.
IOC Director General Francois Carrard said Tuesday his organization recognizes the pain and suffering of Americans and wants to honor those killed September 11. "Our president agreed to what we consider to be the highest form of respect; that is to say, the hoisting of the U.S. Ground Zero Flag as the official U.S. flag, in the stadium of the opening ceremonies," says Mr. Carrard. "We never, never objected to any form of respect to the victims and the heroes [of September 11]."
U.S. IOC member Bob Ctvrtlik - a former member of the U.S. men's volleyball team - says the idea for a special recognition of the flag came from the athletes. He says the decision to fly the flag over the stadium gives proper tribute to all the victims of September 11. "I actually thought it was a great idea to have it above the stadium because then you have got the whole world honoring that and respecting that," says Mr. Ctvrtlik. "It is not just a U.S. tragedy. There is concern from all over the world."
President Bush is expected to attend the opening ceremonies Friday night. The World Trade Center flag is not expected to fly over Rice-Eccles Stadium for the entire Olympics because of its delicate condition.