UK to Olympians: Don't Shake Hands
Athletes urged to dodge bugs by shunning handshakes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2012 2:04 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2012 6:44 AM CST
Japan's Yuzo Kanemaru, left, and Britain's Martyn Rooney shake hands after a heat of the men's 400 meters during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)
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(Newser) – Athletes at this summer's London Olympics may find their British counterparts a bit standoffish. The British Olympic Association's chief doctor has told the country's 550 athletes to avoid handshakes in order to minimize the risk of picking up bugs, AP reports. "The greatest threat to performance is illness, and possibly injury," he says, noting that the Olympic Village environment can be a "pretty hostile one" for infections.

A British etiquette adviser says she finds the advice odd, since the handshake is the normal greeting in the UK. "If somebody extends their hand in a friendly greeting, and you don't give your hand back because of hygiene concerns, that could look very rude," she notes. A spokesman for the US team says no such handshake warning will be issued to American athletes, who are encouraged "to embrace the Olympic spirit, and meet, greet, and interact with as many different athletes from as many nationalities as possible."