CHINA has torn at the very heart of Australia's Olympic heritage by banning its treasured team bonding device ... the barbecue.
About 50 Australian athletes last night had the barbie you have when your not having a barbie in the Olympic village.
There was not a sizzling sausage in sight, no buttered break rolls or a even a single fried onion ring.
The haze drifting over the Olympic village came not from a scorching hot plate but the pollution which is ever present in this humid metropolis.
"It might be false or misleading to call it a barbecue,'' said Olympic boss John Coates beforehand.
"We are not able to cook meat outside the dining room. Normally we can get them to cook it for us but this will be a barbecue with cold meats and salad.''
The Chinese, paranoid about heath risks, did double takes when told the Australians wanted to not only cook their own meat but cook it outside, thereby magnifiying the health risk.
They declined both requests on the grounds the food could become contaminated in low quality local air.
They even baulked at having the meat cooked inside then taken out into air which can be so thick that you could almost put your pet goldfish in it - not that he'd last long.
So salads it was.
Coates accepted the decision but did admit to miss the time-honored tradition of throwing a cripsy sausage on a well-buttered bun. Team barbecues have long been bonding agent for Australian Olympic teams.
"It's obviously a tactic by them to snatch a few medals off us,'' one Australian athlete said.
"We didn't ban them from eating rice at the Sydney Games.''
Though their plans for a barbecue went up in smoke the Australians have been most impressed with the Olympic village.
The Australians plan to have another communal salad with the New Zealand team on Saturday afternoon to watch the Bledisloe Cup rugby union Test between the two nations. http://www.foxsports.com.au/beijing_...016818,00.html