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IOC Reaches Compromise on World Trade Center Flag - 2002-02-07

The International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic organizers have reached a compromise plan to honor the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks at Friday's opening ceremonies. The tattered U.S. flag from the World Trade Center in New York will be raised as the U.S. national anthem is played.

After late night meetings Tuesday, the IOC, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Salt Lake Games organizers reached a compromise agreement on the flag from the World Trade Center.

It was originally suggested that six members of the U.S. delegation carry the flag into Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday night. The IOC said it did not want to change the protocol for the ceremonies, because it could lead to every Olympic host nation wanting a special ceremony.

Then it was suggested that the flag be raised during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. Now, agreement has been reached to have a delegation made up of athletes and members of the New York police and fire departments take the flag into the stadium in a solemn ceremony. The flag will then be raised on the pole during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Salt Lake Organizing Committee Head Mitt Romney says that miscommunications between the committees led to misunderstanding, and, eventually, a compromise plan.

"This is a very different flag-raising, because the entire world is unified behind our country and against the terrible acts, which led to this tragedy," he explained. "So, we thought there was disagreement where there may not have been. Having spent some time and talked together about how we could have the best possible presentation of this flag in a tasteful solemn, poignant way, this was the conclusion, which all three parties agreed was the best. "

IOC Director General Francois Carrard said his organization never intended to deny acknowledging the victims. The IOC only wanted to make sure, whatever was done, was the best and most appropriate way to remember the victims of September 11.

"We did not want to step in and interfere, out of respect," Mr. Carrard said. "We were sort of waiting for what would be the final script, or scenarios. And the time came to sit together. We are absolutely convinced, and deeply convinced, that the solution, which was found, was the very best to pay this tribute and honor the victims and the heroes [of September 11]."

The flag was missing 12 stars and covered in ashes when it was recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center. It has flown over the World Series at Yankee Stadium and over the National Football League's Super Bowl game. However, Mitt Romney says he does not know if the banner will remain atop Rice-Eccles stadium, because of its delicate condition.