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Final torchbearer remains a secret

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PARK CITY ? Only five people know who will light the Olympic caldron in Rice-Eccles Stadium during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, Mitt Romney said Monday.

Besides the Salt Lake Organizing Committee president, the others who know are SLOC's chief operating officer, Fraser Bullock; creative director Scott Givens; ceremonies producer Don Mischer and the head of NBC Sports, Dick Ebersol.

"It's our hope we'll be able to keep the torchbearers who will bring the torch into the stadium confidential," Romney said during a breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by "Around the Rings," an electronically published Olympic newsletter.

Thanks to a slip made during NBC's broadcast of the Golden Globe awards earlier this month, organizers already have had to reveal the names of the performers who'll appear in the Feb. 8 show.

The identity of the final torchbearer is one of few secrets they have left. Several people are expected to carry the torch once it arrives at the stadium before it is passed to the final torchbearer or torchbearers.

Speculation has centered on the American and Soviet men's hockey teams who competed in the so-called "Miracle on Ice" match during the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, N. Y. Members of the American team are getting together shortly before the Salt Lake Games for an exhibition event in Los Angeles.

Romney said organizers ran into some weather-related problems during Saturday's opening ceremonies rehearsal. Winds gusted at some points to 22 mph, he said, forcing some cast members to take off their elaborate costumes.

Some of the costumes are 20 feet high, Romney said, making them very difficult to wear in high winds. But he said come Games time, the performers would struggle to stay in the costumes unless wind speeds reached, say, 40 mph.

"I'm told by people in the industry the show must go on," he told the dozen reporters gathered at the Park City media center.

Still, he said, weather could cause changes to be made in the program. "There probably comes a point at which safety is involved."

Romney said the production team has several contingency plans in place to deal with everything from winds to a blizzard.

Weather is increasingly a concern for organizers, and Monday's snowstorm, which slowed traffic in the Park City area to a crawl, didn't help. After months of saying weather was one area he had no control over, Romney said now he "can't keep it out of my mind."

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