Workers wave the flag for Olympics support

By Julia Proverbs

When Japan won their first gold medal on Monday, Sport Bay of Plenty recreation adviser Nicki Scott knew what she would be wearing to work the next day - a kimono.

Mrs Scott has no affiliation with Japan but her patriotism for the country has swelled since the start of the Olympics.

That's because Japan is her designated country for the Games.

All staff members across the organisation's three offices have been assigned a country to follow and support during the Olympics.

Embracing the Olympic spirit, Mrs Scott has decorated her workspace with origami, a Japanese flag and a blossoming cherry tree she fashioned out of flowers and sticks.

She is also keeping a tally of medals won by Japan on her office divider and has vowed to wear a kimono every time Japan win gold.

"My parents brought it back from Japan a few years ago. I've never worn it before. It's quite cool," she said of the traditional Japanese dress.

Yesterday, she wore it for the first time after Kaori Matsumoto won gold in the women's under 57kg judo.

Sport Bay of Plenty CEO Wayne Werder said being a sporting organisation, it had naturally got into the full spirit of the Games, with a television continually broadcasting events during working hours.

"I've ended up with Mongolia ... its been a good geographical lesson for a lot of people," he said.

The Olympics were inseparable from their line of work and they had tried to link it in as much as possible, he said. "I suppose we're pretty lucky in that we work in an industry that is built round sport."

At the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, cafes have been bursting at the seams, with students and staff crowding around televisions permanently tuned into the Olympics.

"At Bongard students have got all the couches round the TVs and they're in there for all their breaks, and staff as well," said Kirsten Crossman, student experience coordinator for Student Works.

"At Windermere at lunchtime there were at least 60 people," she said.

Tauranga City Council's social club celebrated the opening of the Olympics with a function but during working hours it was business as usual, said council spokesman Marcel Currin.

"People are talking about it but there's no official workplace buzz," he said. "We haven't developed any Olympic habits as a workplace yet."

However, it was early days and he expected Olympic fever to become more evident as the Games progressed.

Neither the Bay of Plenty Regional Council nor Tauranga Hospital mounted an Olympic campaign. However television screens in the hospital's waiting rooms would likely be tuned in for the next two weeks.

Tauranga Hospital communications manager Diana Marriott expected there to be a lot of interest on August 11 when one of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's own, cyclist Karen Hanlen, competed in the women's cross-country mountain biking.

"I think you will get a lot of staff watching," she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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