THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 29, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT WINTER OLYMPICS/PARALYMPICS RECEPTION
The South Lawn
3:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you and welcome to the WhiteHouse. I am delighted to have all of you here. I thank the membersof the Cabinet for coming, and I thank Congressman Ryun from Kansas,a former Olympian, for being here. To the president of the OlympicCommittee, Bill Hybl, to the executive director, Dick Schultz, and toall the other officials, and to the members of our Olympic team.
Let me say -- before I get into my remarks, I need tomake two preliminary comments. First of all, I want to thank TipperGore for representing our administration at the 1998 Winter Olympics.I wish she could be here with us today. I know she would like to be.I'd also like to thank my good friend Mack McLarty for working sohard with the Vice President as the co-chair of our White House TaskForce on the Olympic Games.
The second thing I'd like to do before I get into myremarks is to just say, for the benefit -- because this is my onlychance to talk to the press today -- I just finished a very goodmeeting with the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders, Trent Lottand Tom Daschle, about one of the most important votes that ourSenate will face this year, and that is to expand the alliance ofNATO to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
I want to thank them both for their support. This iscoming at a very important time for America -- four years after Ifirst proposed that we expand our European security alliance to makeus more secure and Europe safer and more united. And I am verygrateful for Senator Lott and Senator Daschle, Senator Helms andSenator Biden, and all the others. We are seeing a very impressive,high-level debate in the Senate, and even among those who don't agreewith my position, I must say I've been very impressed by the debate.And I'm looking forward to a positive vote by the end of this week.
Now let me say I have looked forward to this day for along time, ever since the Olympics concluded. To see these finepeople, and those who are not here who are part of their teams, Ithink makes all Americans very proud. In the mountains, the icerinks, the race courses of Japan, we saw America at its best. Theyoung Olympians who are here did more than carry our flag. In afundamental way, they carried with them the spirit of America.
I'd like to say a special word, too, of appreciation tothe Paralympians who brought home 34 medals in the largest WinterParalympics ever. Thank you. (Applause.)
It's also a great source of pride for us that the WinterOlympics in 2002 will be in Salt Lake City. When the Olympic flagwas lowered and passed from the Mayor of Nagano to Mayor Corradini,it really marked the opening events of the 2002 Games. So we're veryglad that Mayor Corradini has joined us today, along with theChairman of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, Robert Garff, and othermembers of the Utah Olympic Committee. We want to help them succeed.And I'd like to ask them to stand and receive our support. Mayor
Corradini and the members of the Utah Committee -- there's Mr. Garff.Thank you all for being here. (Applause.) Thank you -- there theyare right there. (Applause.)
I'd also like to say one more word to America's Olympicteams in 1998. In a fundamental way, you have become a part ofAmerica's team for the rest of your lives. If you choose, for therest of your lives, because you were an Olympian, you can have aprofound, positive impact on all the people with whom you come incontact, but especially on young people.
Even though for many of you the Olympic triumphs youhad, just being a member of the team, must have marked the most magicmoment in your lives, I hope that the future will be even richer foryou. And I think it can be if you use the fact that you are anOlympian to have a positive impact on the lives of young people.
The lessons of setting your sights high, working hard,being persistent, believing in yourselves, playing by the rules,supporting your team, those are lessons that every child in Americaneeds to learn; lessons that every child can see in your eyes and inthe power of your example. Some of you earlier today participated inthe Champions in Life program. You can reach out, in telling yourstories, working in communities, approaching future endeavors withthis kind of drive and commitment, and I hope you'll do that, becauseyou can really have a positive impact on 21st century America.
In this century, through all its highs and lows, we haveseen throughout the 20th century a renaissance in the Olympic games.Everybody now knows about the remarkable triumph of Jesse Owens inthe 1936 Berlin Games, what it said about prejudice and hatred, whatit said about the difference between America and the Nazi regime thatthen governed in Germany.
Jesse Owens said this in 1936: "Only an Olympian canfully realize the grip the Games have on the youth of the world." Itwas true in 1936; it is true today. Then it was true and people sawa profound good in the midst of a dark time. This is a sunlit momentof peace and prosperity. But the Olympic spirit -- the spirit ofgoodwill, friendship, understanding and unity across all the linesthat divide us -- that can propel us into an even brighter era ofrespect and success.
Now I would like to introduce the athlete that has beenchosen by her teammates to represent the Olympians here today, aperson whose grace and excellence on the ice -- and I must say evenmore after the competition -- must have been a source of enormous joyand pride, not only to her teammates, but to all Americans.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Michelle Kwan. (Applause.)