IOC PRESIDENT ENCOURAGES THE NOCS OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TO WORK FOR THE "PEACE GAMES"
Tel Aviv, 4 June 2001 - During the weekend, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited the NOC of Oman on Saturday and the NOCs of Palestine and Israel on Sunday.
In Tel Aviv, the IOC President was welcomed by IOC member Alex Gilady and the Olympic Committee of Israel, led by President Zvi Varshaviak, Secretary General Arie Rosenzweig, and Director General Efraim Zinger. They escorted the IOC President and the Director of Olympic Solidarity Pere Miro to the Erez crossing section, where the Palestinian delegation was waiting.
In Gaza, the IOC delegation met with a representative of the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Doctor Zaccaria Al-Alra, as well as by Governor Al-Kodwa. The Palestinian NOC, headed by its president Ahmed Al-Kodwa, Secretary General Omar Hussein Ali, and Director General Abdelhamid Ghanem, took the IOC delegation to the site of the future NOC headquarters, where the IOC President unveiled the plate commemorating the start of the works. A short sports festival followed at the Palestine Complex, including karate and volleyball demonstrations.
During their meetings, the delegations discussed the ways to implement the Olympic Solidarity programmes in the region, especially the preparation of palestinian athletes for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The Palestinian Olympic Committee participated with one athlete in Atlanta in 1996, and two athletes, a long distance runner and a swimmer, in last year's Sydney Games.
The IOC delegation then returned to Tel Aviv to meet the NOC of Israel. The IOC President, in the name of the IOC, laid a crown of flowers at the place where 20 youngster were murdered by a suicide bomber on Friday, in front of a popular discotheque at Tel Aviv's beach resort.
The Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, confirmed the plans of Tel Aviv to become an
applicant city for the 2012 Olympic Games. The project is supported by Mr Gilady and the NOC of Israel. The IOC President considered that Tel Aviv had the potential to bid for the Games. He was clear: "You need one condition and it is Peace. Without peace, it is impossible to organise the Games", said the IOC President before suggesting that the NOC present their candidature as the "Peace Games", which should include some sports events in the Gaza strip.
It was the first visit to the Palestinian NOC of the IOC President who intends to complete his visits to all 199 NOCs before the end of his mandate next month. The trip to Palestine completes his Asian tour. He is due to visit the three remaining NOCs, Burundi, Comoros and Eritrea, during an African tour next week on the occasion of the ANOCA General Assembly in Mombasa.