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Wife of Akebono meets the public

The Japanese public got their first look on Tuesday at the blushing five-months pregnant fiancee of American-born sumo star Akebono.

Christine Reiko Kalina, 26, appeared with her gigantic betrothed at a Tokyo news conference in formal kimono and obi sash that hid her condition to formally announce their wedding in September.Their first child is scheduled to be born in late May or early June, the couple said.

Kalina, born in Japan to an American serviceman and his Japanese wife, will enter the traditional sumo world as the first non-Japanese bride of a wrestler. "We are just glad that we have the chance to get married, and both of us will do our best so I can stay in sumo, fight as long as I can and hopefully move on to a better life in sumo," the 28-year-old Akebono told reporters.

The bride-to-be has been a secretary at the University of Maryland's campus at the U.S. Air Force base at Yokota, near Tokyo, since 1994. Akebono thrilled millions of viewers of the Nagano Olympics opening ceremony with a ground-stamping ritual on Saturday.

The couple first met in 1988 shortly after he came from his native Hawaii for his sumo debut, the media reported.

GREEN OLYMPICS: Some 26,000 Olympics volunteers, staff and personnel are decked out in apparel designed to be fully recycled after its use. All of the nylon uniforms - including buttons and zippers - can be recycled and made into new material after the Games.

Meanwhile, the plates and dishes used at restaurants and cafeterias at Olympic sites are the product of a recycling process involving apples - a specialty of Nagano Prefecture. Plates and dishes have been fabricated by combining recycled paper pulp and waste apple pulp left over from juice production.

No word yet if the innovated dinnerware comes complete with an apple flavoring.

After use, the biodegradable plates and dishes can be either composted or recycled into solid fuel or new paper products.

JUST REGULAR FOLK: John LeClair has four roommates. One bathroom between them. Beds the size of, well, typical Japanese single beds. In other words, feet hanging over the end.

Eric Lindros has five roommates. He's living in luxury compared to LeClair. Two baths.

The Other Dream Teams arrived here Tuesday and their Olympic experience will be much different than what Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley and the rest of the original Olympic professionals endured. His Airness and Sir Charles bedded down in a resort hotel a world away from the rest of the Olympics. They lived like IOC suits rather than athletes.

Hockey has gone the other way.

"That's the nice thing about the Olympic experience," Lindros was saying after Team Canada's first practice Tuesday. "You live in the village and eat with all the other athletes. You get to have lunch and congratulate someone when they win a medal. And make new friends."

CLOTHES HORSES: As for the apparel for the U.S. delegation, the USOC shipped 1,414 boxes from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., to Osaka. When each official delegation member arrived for team processing, he or she received a 63-piece wardrobe with a wholesale value of $3,900.

BOOST TO BUDGET: The United States has won more medals in speed skating than any other Winter Olympic sport, but one wouldn't know it from the lack of sponsorships for the U.S. team.

Previously without a major sponsor, U.S. Speed skating picked up a five-year, $1.2 million pledge of support from the Ameritech phone company less than two weeks before the start of the Nagano Games.

Nick Thometz, program director for U.S. Speed skating, said he had to take a 10-percent budget cut this year. Prior to Ameritech's subsidy, the Milwaukee-based speed skating team had to beat the bushes to supplement its annual set allowance from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

VIRUS AMONG US: Doctors attending to athletes at the Winter Olympics are keeping an eye out for symptoms similar to a bad influenza outbreak that has broken out among Nagano children.

The hope is that what has been diagnosed as a virulent "Type-A Hong Kong Flu" - contracted by at least 1,325 children in Nagano Prefecture - won't be transmitted by relatives working or volunteering at Olympic facilities and the Athletes Village.

The Nagano virus has no apparent link to the deadly bird flu virus that killed four people last year in Hong Kong.

STRING 'EM UP: The Nagano Organizing Committee is presenting gifts to all athletes, officials, IOC members and media members to commemorate their participation in the Nagano Games, and yes, there are strings attached.

In fact, the gift is traditional handmade mizuhiki, a decorative string used to tie gift-wrapped articles for ceremonies and celebrations. It's symbolic purpose is to link people's hearts together.

Mizuhiki production originally served as a side business for samurai warriors before gradually developing into more artistic forms. Nearly four centuries ago, a mizuhiki industry originated in the Iida region of southern Nagano Prefecture. Today, the prefecture produces 70 percent of Japan's mizuhiki.

You heard right:

"They just played right out of their minds and did everything that we could hope they would do in a situation with a lot of pressure. They passed with flying stars."

-Japanese men's curling coach Glen Jackson after a 6-5 upset victory over Sweden

Fact is:

While CBS' ratings for its first Olympic telecasts have been disappointing, the games are viewer magnets in Japan. The opening ceremony drew a 38.5 rating in Tokyo, twice the figure for the start of the Lillehammer Games four years ago.

Combined Deseret News staff and wire service reports