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Wednesday, September 13, 2000
U.S. athletes and officials will march together at opening ceremonies

 SYDNEY (AP) -- After 104 years, athletes and team officials will walk together when the U.S. team marches into the Olympics.

 Ending a tradition that started with the first modern games in 1896, the U.S. Olympic Committee said Wednesday it was doing away with the line of officials that usually comes between the American flag and the athletes in the opening ceremony march.

 "We are here together, we are staying together, we are leaving together," USOC president Bill Hybl said. "We are one family, one organization, one team."

 Hybl said he knew of only one other nation -- Norway -- among the 199 in the march that has athletes at the front of the team's delegation.

 The change was requested by athlete representatives on the USOC's executive committee, said Hybl, who was elected to the International Olympic Committee earlier in the day.

 "I think it is a recognition of the contribution that all have made and the achievements of the athletes," he said.

 Officials, including Hybl, will still march. They will be spread among the 600 U.S. athletes.

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