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Olympics will be affirmation of humanity, Romney says

SHARE Olympics will be affirmation of humanity, Romney says

The 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City will now mean something more, Mitt Romney told Olympic volunteers Saturday.

"This year, they will be an affirmation of civilization, of humanity," Romney told a training session for volunteers at Cottonwood High. It was the first public address by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee president and CEO since Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"It's not just Utah itself but our nation that will go forward, undaunted and unbowed."

In response to the possibility of terrorists choosing the Olympics as a target, he said organizers have always recognized that the Olympics are a target for terrorists. However, Romney said he believed that SLOC has an advantage in that they know when the Olympics are and have had time to prepare. He said that they plan to update security and tighten up weak areas.

"Regardless of whether or not we are a target, we will continue. These Games will be safe because we will use every vehicle at our disposal to ensure it," he said. "The Games are a symbol of peace."

The turnout of the volunteer session was the highest that he had seen, said Romney.

Volunteers on the whole seemed united and reassured by the precautions and security measures that are being taken.

"I think it (security) is a concern, but I think it will be covered," Betsy Jenson, a volunteer from Provo, said. "It's an excellent time for Salt Lake to host the Olympics because the world is watching to see what we do."

Another volunteer, Karen Christensen of Magna, said she wasn't concerned about security during the Olympics at all. She said she came away from the training session feeling much more positive and united with other volunteers.

"I can't wait to show the world strength and unity and hopefully world peace through the Olympics," she said.

Vanessa Lenehan, accommodations reservation manager at SLOC, also worked at the Sydney Olympics. She said security is always an issue at the Games and that this is the time to demonstrate the power of the Olympics.

"That was humanity at its worst on Tuesday. Hopefully, we can show humanity at its best during the Olympics," she said. "It's not just an America thing. It's a world thing."


E-mail: sgiles@desnews.com