SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The Salt Lake City Olympics, created in controversy and organized in the wake of national tragedy, begin tonight with a ceremony laden in tradition and one that promises to tug on the emotions of participants and observers alike.
The Olympic flame, nearing the end of a two-month, five-day journey across the United States, arrived in the Olympic city Thursday night to await its transfer to the cauldron that will remain ignited throughout the life of the Games.
And all around the Wasatch Mountains, athletes were preparing for their hoped-for moment in the spotlight.
Without exception, however, the activities in and around the 10 Olympic venues were being carried out amidst extraordinary security. More than 15,000 people representing 30 governmental agencies and backed by the latest in technological advancements were devoted to making the Games safe.
The security arrangements were put to the test Thursday when authorities exploded what they said was a suspicious package found in a parking garage only a few blocks from the Olympic media center. Police said the package was not a bomb, but that it might have been left as a hoax.
"There were fuses and wires," said police spokesman Craig Gleason. "It was a bag full of stuff. It has been stated to me that it had no ability to be any kind of explosive device, whatsoever.
"What we don't know if it was left as a fake device to see how we would react to these things."
The Olympics will actually get underway at 9 a.m. local time when the first ski jumper glides down the 90-meter hill near Park City to begin the qualifying process for Sunday's final.
Germany's Sven Hannawald and Poland's Adam Malysz are expected to battle for the gold medal, one of 78 that will be awarded before the Games come to an end Feb. 24.
Friday's feature attraction, however, will be the opening ceremonies, which will begin just as the sun is setting. Those ceremonies, to be attended by President Bush and watched on television around the globe, will include the traditional march of athletes and the lighting of the Olympic flame by someone whose identity will be kept a well-guarded secret until the actual event.
But this ceremony will include a unique moment to connect the 2002 Olympics with the events that altered the course of history Sept. 11.
The flag saved from the World Trade Center rubble three days after the terrorist attacks, a tattered piece of cloth that has become a symbol of the nation's recovery efforts, will be carried into Rice-Eccles Stadium by a group of American Olympians.
The flag was scheduled to be raised next to the Olympic flag as the Star-Spangled Banner was played during the ceremonies. Olympic decided, however, that the flag was too delicate to be exposed to the harsh elements. After the World Trade Center flag is brought into the stadium, a separate flag will be raised.
Duke gains revenge on Florida State
DURHAM, N.C., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Mike Dunleavy scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Dahntay Jones added 18 Thursday night as the Duke Blue Devils easily avenged their lone loss of the season, 80-49 over the Florida State Seminoles.
Duke (21-1, 9-1 ACC) shook off a sluggish first half that resulted in a season-low 27 points and a mere four-point edge. The Blue Devils took command in the second stanza, during which Jones did all the scoring in a 7-2 run for a 34-25 lead with 18 minutes remaining.
Dunleavy's driving dunk with 10:10 to go capped a 12-0 run and put Duke ahead, 56-38. The Blue Devils lost in Tallahassee on Jan. 6, 77-76.
Carlos Boozer added 12 points and 12 boards for the Blue Devils, who won their ninth in a row. Chris Duhon had 10 points and 10 assists and Jason Williams, invisible most of the way, came away with just seven points to go with six assists. It was only the second time this season the sophomore failed to score in double digits.
Hamilton leads Wizards past Kings
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Richard Hamilton scored 33 points Thursday night as the Washington Wizards upended the Sacramento Kings, 108-101, and remained unbeaten since his return.
Michael Jordan added 25 points and nine assists for Washington, which improved to 5-0 since Hamilton came off the injured list prior to its victory at Cleveland on Jan. 31. He had sat out more than a month with a groin injury.
Washington won for the sixth time in eight games despite playing without Jahidi White (sore throat) and Hubert Davis (viral infection). Led by Jordan, the Wizards head to the All-Star break with a surprising 26-21 record.
Popeye Jones chipped in a season-high 18 points on while hitting all eight of his shots from the field and grabbed 15 rebounds. Chris Whitney tallied 15 and eight assists for Washington.
Sacramento began the third quarter with a 15-6 run, taking a 63-61 lead. Mike Bibby capped the run with a three-pointer with 7:02 left.
But Washington responded with a 30-9 burst, including the final 11 points of the third quarter. After Hamilton hit a jumper to begin the fourth period, the Wizards held their biggest lead at 91-72. Hamilton had nine points during the run.
Other NBA results: Philadelphia 100, Charlotte 93; New York 92, Atlanta 89; Detroit 105, Los Angeles Clippers 92; Milwaukee 107, Memphis 103; Toronto 80, San Antonio 74 in overtime.
Devils continue to struggle
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Ray Ferraro scored with two seconds remaining in regulation Thursday night as the Atlanta Thrashers erased a two-goal deficit in the third period for a 3-3 tie against the New Jersey Devils.
Among the most disappointing teams in the NHL this season, the Devils won their first two games under Kevin Constantine, who replaced Larry Robinson as coach on Jan. 28.
Constantine endured his first loss on Tuesday night as the Devils suffered a 1-0 setback against the Montreal Canadiens. Two nights later, he watched his team build a 3-1 lead after two periods against the NHL's second-worst team.
But Atlanta rallied over the final 20 minutes as Jiri Slegr narrowed the deficit with a power-play goal five minutes into the period.
Other NHL results: New York Islanders 4, Toronto 1; St. Louis 3, Edmonton 1; Florida 3, Tampa Bay 1; Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0.
O'Neal to skip All-Star Game
NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- As expected, Los Angeles Lakers superstar center Shaquille O'Neal announced Thursday he will skip this weekend's All-Star Game to rest his arthritic right big toe.
NBA commissioner David Stern said O'Neal will be replaced on the Western Conference roster by forward Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers, who becomes the eighth first-time All-Star chosen for this year's contest.
Elected as a starter in fan balloting, the 7-2, 350-pound O'Neal is averaging 26.1 points and 10.8 rebounds this season. He has missed six games due to the injury, including Wednesday's home loss to the Chicago Bulls.
O'Neal is a nine-time All-Star. However, this will be the third year and second in succession he has sat out due to injury. He also sat out the 1997 contest in Cleveland.
Report: Lewis to coach Bucs
The St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday the Buccaneers plan to offer their coaching job to Lewis, who has coached in Baltimore for the last six years and is best known for running the defense that set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season in 2000.
Bucs officials told the newspaper that no formal announcement will be made until Monday to give Lewis time to assemble a staff.
But the reported hiring is a curious one for the Bucs since team vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer, the sons of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer, cited offensive problems as the reason for Tony Dungy's firing last month.
Gruden, the offensive-minded coach of the Oakland Raiders, appeared to be a perfect fit for Tampa Bay after Bill Parcells jilted the Bucs.
Goggin leads Buick Invitational
LA JOLLA, Calif., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Australian Mathew Goggin birdied half the holes on the Torry Pines North Course Thursday and shot an 8-under 64 that put him one shot in front after the opening round of the Buick Invitational.
Tiger Woods was just two shots back as he began his bid for what would be his first victory of the year.
The tournament is played over both the North and South courses at Torry Pines with the South Course having been revamped and turned into a 7,500-yard test. Of the 11 players who shot 5-under 67 or better Thursday, all but one played on the North Course.
Those who survive the 36-hole cut will play the final two rounds on the South Course.
Goggin was one shot in front of veteran Jay Williamson and Englishman Luke Donald, who reached the PGA Tour this year through the Qualifying Tournament. None of the top three after Thursday's round has ever won a tour event.
Weis to stay with Patriots
BOSTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who was credited with the rapid development of Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady, has apparently opted to remain with the New England Patriots.
The Boston Herald reported that Weis turned down an offer from the Carolina Panthers and has agreed to a two-year contract worth $1 million with the Patriots, making him one of the NFL's highest paid coordinators.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers made Weis a three-year offer worth $500,000 annually. New Panthers coach John Fox is a close friend of Weis.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- NASCAR announced Thursday the appointment of a safety analyst and three medical liaisons in full-time positions, beginning with the 2002 season.
Jerry Kaproth, a retired Minnesota State Patrol district commander, was named as the safety analyst. His responsibilities will include investigating the results of race incidents and aiding NASCAR'S engineering group with accident reconstruction.
Robin Morrisey, Denese Meeks and Lance Davin were appointed as medical liaisons, and each will be assigned to one of NASCAR's national series -- NASCAR Winston Cup Series; NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
The role of the medical liaison will be to gather and maintain detailed medical histories of the drivers and coordinate medical services with the track, drivers, crew members and local hospitals. The liaison's interfacing among the involved groups will enhance overall communication among the different parties.
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