Olympics Offer a Helping Hand to Sarajevo's Children
THE decor of any Olympics can be summed up in one word: festive. In its stark departure from that theme, however, one poster has begun to turn heads and tug at the hearts of those attending the Barcelona Games.
It shows a youngster with his head wrapped in a large bandage, a casualty of the strife in Sarajevo, host to the 1984 Winter Olympics.
There is no gaiety in this image, which helps to announce a campaign to assist the victims - especially the children - of the civil war raging in Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital. Called Lillehammer Olympic Aid, the campaign is the spontaneous outgrowth of concern among the citizens of the Norwegian community that will host the 1994 Winter Games.
The organizers of the Lillehammer Olympics have been promising the greenest, most environmentally friendly Olympics ever. Now they have taken a lead in the humanitarian area as well. "This is a dimension of Olympism," says Aage Enghaug, a spokesman for Lillehammer '94, the host group: "The campaign has been approved by the International Olympic Committee as a nonpolitical, humanitarian effort concentrating on the people who are suffering.
Letters have been sent to every city that has ever held an Olympics, and also to Atlanta and Nagano, Japan, the respective hosts of the '96 summer and '98 Winter Games, asking for help in raising 94 million Norwegian krona (about $15 million) for the International Red Cross, a partner in the effort.
Lillehammer mayor Audun Tron, in a news release, indicates that 250 orphans and wounded children have been invited to stay in his city until the fighting stops. He has encouraged other Olympic cities to do the same. During the Olympics' opening ceremony here, Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall called for the warring factions to reach a truce "in the classical tradition" during the Games.
Meanwhile, athletes from the former Yugoslavia have competed here either for one of three newly recognized national teams (Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina), or with an "individual Olympic participant" designation, in the case of Serbia and Montenegro, which were not allowed entries in team sports because of United Nations sanctions against the government of what remains of Yugoslavia.
AFTER its rowers won bronze medals for both the men's coxless pairs and fours, the Slovenia Olympic Committee held a press conference Sunday to introduce its athletes and promote Slovenia as "absolutely a safe country," in the words of spokesman Yelko Kacin.
While waiting for the rowers, who were caught in traffic traveling from Banyoles 80 miles away and never made it, a sparse media turnout was given a short course on Slovenia and Bled, a traditional hotbed of rowing that Slovenian Olympic officials hope can attract more tourists.
While emphasizing that peace prevails in his nation, Mr. Kacin underlined the importance of seeing an end to the Yugoslavian conflict that could make the Bosnia-Herzegovina refugees "the new Palestinians of Europe."
Lillehammer Olympic Aid, P.O. Box 1994, 2601 Lillehammer, Norway.