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Australians told to wear uniforms for safety

Aug. 10, 2008, 4:50 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Australian athletes have been told to wear their team uniform while touring Beijing, hoping a visible Olympic connection might offer them more protection following the fatal stabbing of the father of a former U.S. Olympian at a popular tourist site in the city.

Todd and Barbara Bachman, parents of 2004 U.S. volleyball Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman and in-laws of U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, were attacked by a Chinese man while visiting the 13th-century Drum Tower. Bachman died from knife wounds and Barbara Bachman was critically injured.

Their assailant threw himself to his death after the attack on a high balcony of the 13th century Drum Tower, just eight kilometers (five miles) from the main Olympic site.

On Sunday, Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates urged athletes and supporters to be extra cautious outside Olympic areas by "branding" themselves.

"We certainly will be impressing on our athletes through their (sports) section managers that when their competition finishes and they go downtown ... it would be wise to be branded," Coates said.

"We really should be insisting they should wear their team gear, I think that might be a small precaution. I think there is more likelihood of people keeping an eye out for you - security and volunteers - if you are in (Olympic) gear."

He said Australians had been warmly welcomed by the Chinese, and believed they was less likely to be the target of any attacks in their national colors.

"I certainly don't think we should go downtown in civvies," Coates said.

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