Canadian team raises its flag
SYDNEY (CP) -- Aboriginal dancers and a children's choir helped Canada's team raise its flag in the Olympic athletes' village.
Only a handful of the more than 300 Canadian competitors were on hand for the 30-minute ceremony under clear blue skies on a Tuesday morning cooled by a brisk wind. Most were at venues training. Support staff members were among the 75 who marched into a small outdoor amphitheatre in red and black hockey-style sweaters to take seats in front of the stage.
Seven scantily-dressed dancers in body paint strutted and crouched to recorded shrieks of birds, grunts of animals, and thumping drums.
Following brief speeches by team officials, more than 50 green-and-yellow-clad children from a local public school sang O Canada.
The presence to the side of the amphitheatre of Duncan Pound, an RCMP constable from the Whistler, B.C., detachment, added a touch of Canadiana. He's the son of Dick Pound, the International Olympic Committee vice-president from Montreal.
A four-metre-high chain link fence separated the amphitheatre from the inner athletes' village. A huge Cuban flag was draped over an athlete's balcony across the street from the fence. During the singing of O Canada, a bare-chested man appeared on the adjoining balcony of the Cubans' apartments to take in the scene.
Chef de mission Diane Jones Konihowski said in an interview afterwards that training took precedence over the ceremony for the athletes. The Games' opening ceremonies are Friday.
"If they could be there, wonderful. But their concentration now is on getting ready for competition," she said.
Predicting how many medals Canadians would win was not on her agenda.
"I hope every athlete achieves a personal best," she said. "If they can do that, we'll be on the podium."
There have been glitches in transportation, she said, "But other than that everything has been wonderful."