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USOC: Athletes regret wearing masks at airport

Aug. 06, 2008, 9:16 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING(AP) A group of American cyclists has apologized to Beijing Olympic organizers after arriving in China's capital wearing face masks.

``A few of our athletes did wear masks as they came through the airport,'' said Jim Scherr, the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief executive officer. ``Those athletes regret that action and have written an apology to BOCOG on their own behalf. They now realize and understand how their actions were perceived by the host nation and by the organizing committee.''

Beijing's air pollution remains a concern with the start of the games approaching. Scherr said masks have been issued to national governing bodies that requested them.

``I understand that about 200 of our athletes received those masks through the national governing body, not directly from the U.S. Olympic Committee,'' Scherr said. ``Hopefully they won't have to use them.''