Friday's highlights from the Athens Olympics
Posted: Saturday August 14, 2004 4:01AM; Updated: Tuesday August 17, 2004 3:56AM
Friday, Aug. 13
--Greek windsurfing champion Nikolaos Kaklamanakis had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron to open the games. He is a three-time world champion who won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and carried the Greek flag in Sydney four years later.
--Athletes from Afghanistan and Iraq received huge cheers during the opening ceremony's parade of nations. Houston Rockets center Yao Ming of China and Swiss tennis star Roger Federer carried the flags of their respective countries.
Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were hospitalized with injuries from a motorcycle wreck, forcing the IOC to postpone a hearing to Monday on whether they intentionally dodged drug testers.
The news, involving two of Greece's biggest sports stars, stunned the host nation.
The Olympics returned to Greece after a 108-year absence. The opening ceremony invoked Greek mythology, civilization and culture, with 72,000 fans assembled to greet the world's greatest athletes at the site of the games' 19th-century rebirth.
The parade of nations featured 10,500 athletes marching under 202 flags, the largest procession in Olympic history. The Greek flag, because of links to the ancient games, entered first as usual. As the host nation, Greek athletes also entered last.
The entrance of the U.S. team -- led by basketball guard Dawn Staley -- drew cheers. Some people also stood and put their thumbs down in an apparent show of displeasure for the war in Iraq. Moments later, the Iraqis entered to a roaring ovation.
Competition begins Saturday in 21 sports, with medals awarded in road cycling, diving, fencing, judo, shooting, swimming and weightlifting. The women's 10-meter air rifle winner will be awarded the first gold medal of the games.
Sunny and clear with a high of 95 degrees. The forecast for the first full day of competition was for more sunshine and 96 degrees.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The Olympic Games: Welcome back to Greece!" -- Olympic stadium announcer as the opening ceremony began.