Olympic village opens in Karuizawa
Scottish bagpipes signalled the opening of the Olympic Village in Karuizawa on Feb.3, the site for the newly entered Olympic sports of curling. Karuizawa is about 70 kilometers southeast of Nagano City. 120 people from 9 countries are expected to stay at the Karuizawa Skate Center Hotel during the Winter Games.
Goldberger arrives in Japan
There were lots of rumors going around in Japan on whether Austrian ski jumper Andreas Goldberger would be admitted entry to Japan. That is because, he has in the past disclosed his cocaine use. In Japan, the door is closed for convicted drug users. 3 time World Cup champion, Goldberger, however, was able to enter the country on Feb.3 from Kansai International Airport. It was made possible in the name of Japan's Justice Minister who gave the approval in January.
Legacy slalom ski
Stars of the past, such as triple crown king in 1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo Toni Sailer, skied down the Olympic slalom course in Hakuba. This was a special event to honor the legends of ski. 14 former medalists took part on Feb. 1. Seven of them proceeded to the final round the following day. They include Sailer, Sapporo gold medalist in the downhill, Bernhard Russi, and Franz Klammer, winner of the same event in 1976 Innsbruck. 62-year old Sailer became the 1998 Legacy Cup champion, and was awarded 10 thousand dollars.
Major blunders in Korean names
The North Korean team was welcomed at the Olympic Village on Feb. 1. Their return to the Olympics in 6 years was to be well celebrated. However, the language volunteer dropped out the term "people" from North Korea's official name several times during the ceremony. This caused great controversy. That wasn't all. The next day, it was discovered that the Olympic computer information system "Info '98" had given the wrong title to the national anthem of South Korea.
Akebono takes over from Takanohana
It was officially announced on Jan. 28 that Akebono will replace Takanohana to perform the purification ceremony of the grand champion during the opening ceremony. Akebono talked to reporters that day overjoyed to take on the important role. Takanohana who had a better record than Akebono during the November tourney in Kyushu was appointed to perform the prestigious ritual initially. However, he pulled out in the middle of the New Year's tourney due to high fever and disorder of the intestine. This replacement has been announced with other changes. Takanohana was expected to lead in the Japanese delegation. Wakanohana will instead take his place. Because Akebono has to perform the ritual, he cannot come into the stadium leading the first group of athletes, the Greek team. Ozeki or champion Takanonami will replace him there.
Officially registered countries
As of Jan.24 there are 72. The number has been finalized on Feb. 1. Here they are in alphabetical order
||Trinidad and Tobago
||United States of America
Olympic village opens
The apartment complexes where the participating athletes will stay was officially opened on Jan. 24. The village is located 7 kilometers southwest of Nagano Station. The total land space is 19 hectares. There are 1032 apartments in 22 building, and is capable of accommodating 3000 people. There are such facilities as a restaurant opened round-the-clock with seating capacity for 1000 people, religious meeting hall, first aid room, disco, and a movie theater, The first to enter the village were Japan's women's ice hockey team and partipants from the UK. Also, the International Broadcasting Center and the Main Press Center opened on the same day.
Japanese delegation finalized
With the announcement of the remaining 2 snowboarders on Jan. 20, including World Cup winner Yuri Yoshikawa, the names of members of Japan's delegation have all been entered. The athletes total 166, and 148 officials. The 314 delegation is the largest ever Japan is sending to the Olympic Winter Games. Japan had a 110 member team in Lillehammer and in Sapporo. The surge in number is attributed to the fact that Japan can enter all sporting events automatically for being the host country. There is also an increase of women participants, or 66 of them.
More countries officially enter
As of Jan.19, NAOC has confirmed the entry of 74 countries. The latest are Puerto Rico in alpine ski and bobsleigh, Venezuela in luge, and Kyrgyzstan in cross country skiing. Previous additions were Kenya, Mongolia and Portugal on Jan. 5. Entries will be accepted until Jan. 26 based on the qualification of individual participants.
Torch relay begins
The Olympic torch relay began on Jan. 6 on 3 different routes. One started in Okinawa, another in Kagoshima, and also way up north from Hokkaido. The route taken in Hokkaido is the same that one for the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games. The 1st to carry the torch was Sapporo Olympics silver medalist Akitsugi Konno, then former top Japanese woman skier Emi Kawabata. Golfer, Isao Aoki also was among the northern relay team. In all, 7000 people will carry the 3 Olympic torches until it is finally handed to Midori Ito at the opening and closing stadium in Nagano on Feb.7.
Michiyo's Note: I'm afraid the torch relay has been having trouble since it's taken off. The flame has been blowing out from time to time.
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