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In a first for UN leader, Annan to attend opening of Winter Olympic Games

In a first for UN leader, Annan to attend opening of Winter Olympic Games

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, will attend the opening ceremony of the XIX Winter Olympic Games Salt Lake City – the first time a UN leader will be at the Games ceremony at the invitation of the International Olympic Committee, a UN spokesman announced today.

Mr. Annan will leave for Salt Lake City on Thursday following the invitation from Dr. Jacques Rogge, the IOC President, spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press at UN Headquarters in New York.

In his letter to Dr. Rogge accepting the IOC invitation, the Secretary-General noted that the UN General Assembly’s adoption last December of a new resolution on “Building a better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” was “a welcome reaffirmation of the value of the cooperation” between the United Nations and the IOC, the spokesman said.

“I am eager to join you in Salt Lake City to celebrate the commitment and the achievements of young people who are the true wealth of the Olympic Movement, and of the communities they represent,” the Secretary-General wrote to the IOC chief.

While in Salt Lake City, the Secretary-General will make opening remarks on Saturday at a forum on “Using support for development to build a brighter future for children worldwide.” The forum is organized by Olympic Aid, an athlete-led non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with the IOC.

A number of senior officials from UN agencies, including Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organizaiton; Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF; and Ruud Lubbers, High Commissioner for Refugees, are expected to participate in the forum at the invitation of Olympic Aid. Mr. Annan’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi, will also take part.