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Giuliani: Olympics Show the Value of Peaceful Competition - 2002-02-24

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says the Winter Olympics are showing the world the value of peaceful competition. The former New York official met with reporters Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Utah Governor Mike Leavitt introduced Mr. Giuliani, who is credited with helping New York rebound from devastating terror attacks in September.

The Utah governor said within an hour of the attacks on New York and Washington, he was asked if the games should proceed. He said he had no doubt that the world would need the Olympics more than ever.

Mr. Giuliani agreed and said the games are more successful than anyone could have imagined. He credited local officials like Mr. Leavitt. "If you could take yourselves back to September or early October and think about the monumental task of putting on these games in light of what was happening in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, my hat is off to them for the wonderful job that they've done," he said. "And I think they've been very, very successful in proving that you hold a world scale event, and you could do it in a peaceful way and in a good way."

The former New York official said disputes at this year's games should be kept in perspective. Russia and South Korea have both filed formal complaints about the judging at the Olympics, arguing that their athletes were cheated out of medals. Mr. Giuliani said baseball in New York generates stronger feelings. "Coming from New York, this is nothing. Give me a break. The Yankees and the Mets have more arguments and fights than this in one game," he said. "Let's not get too sensitive about this."

The former New York official was asked if he thinks the games are too focused on the United States and its athletes. He said he doesn't think so. "I think these games are games that are international in scope. I think obviously Americans root for the United States of America," he said. "That's what you would expect. I think when the games are held elsewhere, you see the same thing. I think they've gone out of their way to make these games as broad-based and as friendly to everyone as possible."

The program for the Olympic closing ceremony is a closely guarded secret, and the former New York major was asked if he has a role. He wouldn't answer directly, but said he will be there. "I'm going to be cheering," he said.

The Olympics will end Sunday in a gala ceremony.