Today in the Olympics: Why the Games actually begin tomorrow, a cocky American tradition, and why hosting the Olympics is always a bad idea.

  • Programming note: The Olympics don't officially start until Friday, but there will be actual competition tomorrow when the women's soccer tournament begins in Cardiff. [Reuters]
  • American flag bearers have a nasty habit of refusing to bow to international custom ... or rival flags. The Los Angeles Times looks at the unusual tradition of U.S. Olympic teams that, since 1908, have refused to lower the flag during the Parade of Nations, as a sign of respect to their host. [The Los Angeles Times]
  • With just a few short days before an Opening Ceremony that was seven years in the making, here's a friendly reminder that hosting the Olympics is a terrible idea for any city. [The Atlantic
  • A Czech artist has built a double decker bus that does pushups. (And groans while it does them.) We don't know either... but it's still less creepy than Wenlock and Mandeville. [CBS News]
  • The U.S. women's gymnastics team is a little nervous today after star vaulter McKayla Maroney was slowed down by an apparent foot injury in practice. She still has time to recover and/or pull a Kerri Strug and win America's heart with a painfully gritty performance. [Yahoo]
  • The Guardian asks the Olympic basketball team what they think about their opponents, their teammates, and the city of London. What do you mean Tyson Chandler has never had fish and chips? [Guardian]
  • Finally, London Mayor Boris Johnson (with the help of some clever editing) welcomes the world to his home city. [CassetteBoy on YouTube]