New trend doesn't have a nice ring

E-mail From Down Under

Summer Olympics

September 18, 2000|By John Eisenberg

The Olympic symbol consists of five interlocking rings, but there's a sixth ring at the Sydney Games - the ringing of cell phones.

Everyone has one, it seems, from athletes to reporters to officials to volunteers (every U.S. athlete was given one upon arriving), and though there's nothing in the Olympic credo about making a call every 15 minutes, that seems to be the rule.

Phones are going off during gymnastics and weightlifting competitions, in the middle of interview sessions, on trains, in restrooms - everywhere.

Hundreds of athletes were seen making calls while marching in the opening ceremonies, and the ringing became so constant during yesterday's weightlifting competition that an official pleaded with fans to turn their phones off.. Maybe it's time to add a new sport to the Olympic agenda - international speed dialing.

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