Faster, Stronger ... and More Polite?

US athletes hit 'manners training' to avoid Bode fiascos
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2008 3:48 AM CDT
Swimmer Michael Phelps was one of the US Olympians who attended a two-day etiquitte course meant to prevent bad behavior in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – US Olympians are getting a new type of training: lessons in how to behave in Beijing, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a required course the USOC calls the "ambassador program," US athletes are receiving instruction on topics ranging from appropriate chopstick use to the correct way to hold the American flag during a victory lap.

Between lessons in basic Chinese vocabulary and silly group games designed to give athletes experience dealing with "things that make them uncomfortable," the take-home lesson is: don't be a jerk in Beijing. After Bode Miller embarrassed US team leaders by heavy partying Torino, and numerous other gaffes by other Olympians, the committee hopes to prevent further mortification.