Olympic Roundup: President Obama says country couldn't be prouder of Olympians

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says America "couldn't be prouder of" its athletes who are competing in the Winter Games set in Sochi, Russia.

The White House released a brief video of Obama Friday. The president tells the skiers, figure skaters, snowboarders, bobsledders and other members of Team USA that they are an inspiration to the nation.

Obama tells the team America will be watching and rooting for them.

The U.S. has sent some 230 athletes to the Sochi Olympics, the largest delegation ever for any country at the Winter Games.

Opening ceremonies were Friday. The Games run through Feb. 23.

NO YOGURT

Chobani is the U.S. Olympic team's official yogurt. It's also hard to find here in Sochi. And therein lies a problem. Some 5,000 cups of Greek yogurt isn't getting to Russia because of a customs dispute between Washington and Moscow. This is producing unhappiness but also determination. Says U.S. skier Lyman Currier: "Whether we have our yogurt or not, we'll be able to adapt."

OPENING DAY

The Sochi Games have been clouded by fears of terrorism and a Russian law that has been used to discriminate against gays. Friday night's opening ceremony gives President Vladimir Putin a chance to sweep those issues under the rug for a few hours and Russia a chance to show a different, more vibrant side to the rest of the world for the first time since Soviet Moscow hosted the Summer Games in 1980.

WORLD LEADERS

Here's who's coming: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart. Here's who's not: Barack Obama, French President Francois Holland and the prime ministers of Britain and Germany.

And then there's Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who announced Friday he'll be at the Sochi Olympics, held in the country that invaded his own in 1979. Organizers say some 66 leaders -- including heads of state and international organizations -- are joining the games.

GOOGLE'S STATEMENT

The new Google doodle is about the Olympics, and it's bound to be controversial. With the Winter Games opening, the company changed its logo to illustrations of athletes competing against a rainbow-colored backdrop.

Google isn't commenting on the move -- it says it wants the illustration to speak for itself -- but it is pretty clearly keyed toward the outcry against Russia's law restricting gay-rights activities.

THOSE OTHER OLYMPICS

"The Lake Placid Olympics was one of the most poorly organized." So begins a paragraph about the contentious 1980s Olympics that appears this month in the in-flight magazine of the Russian airline Aeroflot.

Also there's this: "The Americans used the games to wage a propaganda campaign in support of a boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow." This was in the middle of the Cold War, and evidently at least some resentment still lingers.

GOLD MEDAL GREATS LIGHT CAULDRON

Hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak and three-time figure skating gold medalist Irina Rodnina ran out of the stadium and joined hands to light the towering Olympic cauldron.

SHORT TRACK

Norwegian skiers thought the biathlon track was too short, and they were right. The loop at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center should measure 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles), but they had to add 40 meters (130 feet). The venue hosted a World Cup biathlon event last year but the shape of the course has been modified since.

SATURDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

The first five medals at Sochi will be awarded: the men's 5,000-meter speedskating, where Sven Kramer of the Netherlands opens defense of his lone Olympic title; the men's 10-kilometer sprint in biathlon; the women's moguls, the men's slopestyle final; and the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon, where Marit Bjorgen of Norway, the most successful athlete of the Vancouver Games with three golds, a silver and a bronze, leads a strong Norwegian team.

PIRATED CEREMONY

NBC's decision not to stream a feed of the Winter Olympic opening ceremony live in the United States didn't mean that video couldn't be found.

Links to the ceremony from other sources popped up online Friday on social media sites like Twitter, sometimes accompanied by complaints about NBC's decision. NBC has rights to Olympic video in the United States, but there are other rights holders outside the country that aired the ceremony live.

NBC said Friday that a "very small number of users" watched online instead of waiting for the network's prime-time coverage. During the London Olympics in 2012, NBC estimated that less than 2 percent of Olympics video viewed in the United States was not from NBC's official feed.

The network would not discuss anti-piracy efforts taken in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee.

The ceremony over, NBC is showing all of the competition live online or on cable TV. No decision has been announced on the closing ceremony, although NBC streamed that online. There is a nine-hour time difference between the eastern United States and Sochi.

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