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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

Just For The Fun Of It

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 29, 1996|DOUG CRESS

One of the most vocal--and maybe bizarre--cheering sections of these Olympic Games belongs to the Jianlibao soft-drink company of China, which sponsors the Chinese Olympic team and has an army of singing, chanting supporters.

Dressed in loud yellow T-shirts and baseball caps promoting Jianlibao, billed as China's "original tea drink," the fans are best recognized by the giant panda mascot costume they drag from venue to venue. Although Atlanta's weather has proven too hot for anyone to wear the fur suit, the panda head bobs among the fans like a black and white beach ball.

"They tried to make us buy a ticket for the head at badminton," said Lu Zhong, tour director for the Jianlibao fans. "They said it would take up a seat and therefore we would have to pay for one. But when I explained I would wear it on my head they had no argument. They had to let us bring it in."

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