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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 15:21 GMT
Peace at the Games
Flags of the competing nations are raised as a sign of solidarity
Flags of the nations are raised as a sign of solidarity
By BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay in Salt Lake City

An Olympic 'peace path', framed by 80 poles representing each participating country at the 2002 Winter Games, has been opened in Salt Lake City.

With global instability still fresh in many American minds after 11 September, organisers hope the path serves as a timely reminder that the Olympics can help promote peace.

Olympics truce
The modern Olympic truce is passed in a resolution at the United Nations before each Games
It is a reinstitution of the ancient truce and attempts to build on the friendship and solidarity between nations that is at the heart of the true Olympic spirit

City Mayor Rocky Anderson was present as the Young Refugees of Utah, standing by each pole, raised national flags in a colourful celebration.

In the spirit of the Olympic truce, each pole is inscribed with the words 'May peace prevail on Earth' and in the language appropriate to the nation it represents.

The poles will be housed in the Olympic Village during the Games, and athletes will be encouraged to take them home afterwards.

Hiroo Saionji, president of the World Peace Prayer Society, a non-profit international organisation which has been planting such paths since 1955, was among those at the ceremony.

He said: "This is an important time because the world is now focused on Salt Lake City.

Joseph, a teenager who fled war in Sudan and has now lived in Salt Lake City since June last year, held up the Union Jack in the ceremony.
Joseph holds up the Union Jack

"So we hope the Olympic Games help to spread our message of peace."

Mayor Anderson added: "The Games are about far more than simply athletic achievement.

"The poles will serve as a symbol of peace among the great diversity of cultures that the Olympics represent."

Joseph, a teenager who fled war in Sudan and has now lived in Salt Lake City since June last year, held up the Union Jack in the ceremony.

He said afterwards: "I am very thankful to be here today and I am looking forward to watching the Olympics here."

BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay

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17 Jan 02 | BBC Coverage
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