BEIJING -- Half the fun of the Parade of Nations, maybe more, is seeing how each country chooses to dress its athletes. It's no fun to praise the good, so here are some of the lowlights:
- The French are supposed to know about fashion, but the French women were wearing a red leather exaggerated cummerbund that was far from flattering.
- The Hungarian women were in dresses that looked like someone had splattered red paint on them.
- While I'm always a big fan of the fun-loving laid back Australians, they went too casual for the opening ceremonies, wearing track suits.
- And now for the Americans ... what was up with the white scally cap-like hats? They did come across as cool or fashionable unless you looked at Tyson Gay, who wore his tilted off to the side. In general, hats and other forms of headgear are not the best way to go.
The athletes marched in to a medley of international music ranging from Mexican mariachi to Scottish bagpipes. Big cheers went to Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Iraq, Russia, the US and Australia. When President George Bush appeared on the big screens at both ends of the stadium, he was greeted with both applause and disapproving whistles. Meanwhile, the host country naturally received the loudest cheers. NBA All-Star Yao Ming led the Chinese delegation as flag-bearer for the second consecutive Olympics. It was an easy choice because he cuts such an impressive figure with his height.