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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks on Signing the Proclamation Commemorating the Designation of Atlanta as Olympic Host City


Thank you all very, very much. First, look, it's a great pleasure to have you all here. I want to pay my respects to the Members of the Congress that are down to salute this event -- Senators, Congressmen. And I can feel this Atlanta spirit that you've made famous.

I thought for a minute Maynard Jackson was taking over here. But nevertheless -- [laughter] -- I want to particularly welcome and pay my respects to Billy Payne; also to Maynard and Andy Young; the Governor of the great State, Governor Joe Frank Harris -- these people who committed themselves, heart and soul, to bringing the games to Atlanta. And they'd kill me because it includes so many that are here today. I can't single you all out, though. The administration's own Georgia contingent is here -- Secretary Lou Sullivan and Paul Coverdell, the head of the Peace Corps -- along with, as I say, Members of the Congress. And I particularly salute the members of the Georgia delegation. And of course, Bob Helmick is with us, the president of the USOC [U.S. Olympic Committee]; Harvey Schiller, the executive director, to join in this national celebration.

Before going further, I'm pleased to have just signed, inside, H.R. 4962, which authorizes the minting of commemorative coins to support the American athletes training for the '92 Olympics. And this afternoon, our thoughts are not only on the '92 Olympics but the '96 as well. And it's an honor to be here today to celebrate the selection of the host city for the '96 summer Olympics, the next great international city, Atlanta, Georgia.

Nearly a century ago, in April of 1896, the King of Greece opened the first modern Olympic games in Athens, a revival of the ancient games that were held in honor of the Greek god Zeus. And the architect of those modern Olympic games was a Frenchman, Baron de Coubertin, who envisioned a new era in international sports. We all remember the baron -- [laughter]. But anyway, here's what the guy said -- [laughter] -- ``Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true free trade of the future, and the day it is introduced into Europe, the cause of peace will have received a new and strong ally.''

Well, as we approach the 100th anniversary of the first modern Olympics, we still dream of an open and peaceful world -- open to the free trade of ideas, the free movement of peoples. And as the approach, we look forward to the free competition of athletes from the nations of the world under the Olympic motto, ``Swifter, higher, stronger.''

Those three words might as well have been the motto for the city of Atlanta, where the Old South has become the new South, with Atlantans leading the way. And they'll continue to lead the way because the Olympics will bring an estimated .5 billion into Georgia's economy in the next 6 years and create, predictably, 84,000 jobs. And that's not just good news for Atlanta; I believe that's good for all of America.

When Maynard Jackson heard the news, he said: ``I feel like an exclamation point has just been placed on the life of our city. We won't let the world down.'' And I'm absolutely certain that he's right and that Atlanta will not let the world down. This great city of yours has already made history as the cradle of the American civil rights movement -- home to Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, Maynard Jackson, Andy Young. And the 1996 games will give Atlanta the chance to make new history.

You know, Justice White, who we all know -- a Supreme Court Justice -- we all remember as a Heisman Trophy winner from Colorado University. He once said sports constantly makes demands on the participant for top performance; and they develop integrity, self-reliance, and initiative. And he said that in addition to teaching loyalty to yourself, sports teaches loyalty to your team. And that's what the Olympics are all about: initiative, self-reliance, integrity, and loyalty.

Those very same qualities are the ones that brought the Olympics to Atlanta. On top of your sports facilities and worldwide name recognition, you won the competition because Atlanta's had tremendous leadership and community which united behind it. The community spirit and enthusiasm shown by the people of Atlanta has been nothing short of remarkable, and you are America at her best.

And my thanks to all the volunteers, incidentally -- the volunteers who made such a difference in this herculean effort. I congratulate each and every one of you. And I join all Americans in anticipation of those four magic words, ``Let the games begin.''

And now I will sign this proclamation proudly, designating today as Atlanta: Olympic Host City Day.

Thank you all, and God bless you. Thank you for being with us.

Note: The President spoke at 2:08 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening remarks, he referred to Maynard Jackson, mayor of Atlanta; Billy Payne, organizer of the Olympic games; Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta; and Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan. The proclamation is listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.

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