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Oly Aid meet on Feb. 8 draws global delegates

SHARE Oly Aid meet on Feb. 8 draws global delegates

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan are touching down in Utah for a roundtable discussion Feb. 8 sponsored by Olympic Aid, the official charity of the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.

The two Nobel Peace prize winners will join a high-profile group that includes World Health Organization Director General Dr. Gro Brundtland and Ruud Lubbers, high commissioner of the U.N. refugee agency. IOC President Jacques Rogge will also attend.

The panel, consisting of leaders from around the globe, will discuss issues ranging from rehabilitation of refugees to tobacco-free sports. The roundtable will be broadcast live via satellite on Feb. 8 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

"This is the first time we have been able to bring so many world leaders to talk about the children who have been left behind," said Ann Romney, Olympic Aid Board of Patrons co-chairwoman.

Olympic Aid is an international charity organization dedicated to providing children with opportunities to get involved with sports. It particularly focuses on children living in war-torn areas. Along with providing sports opportunities, Olympic Aid also gives immunizations to children when they come to play.

Olympic Aid started during the Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games and continued through the Sydney Olympic Summer Games. Going into the Salt Lake Winter Games, it has raised $40 million.

Norwegian speedskating Olympian Johann Koss has been heavily involved with Olympic Aid since 1994 when he donated his $30,000 bonus Olympic medal prize money to the cause and urged other athletes to follow suit. He serves as chairman and travels to raise money.

During the Olympics, Olympic Aid will sell Olympic Medal Plaza tickets, donated by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. It will also sell donated Olympic athlete equipment. With Ian Thorpe's swimsuit going for $100,000 at the Sydney Games, Koss hopes the public will bid high in the name of charity.

Koss said Olympic Aid's goal is to raise $5 million in Salt Lake City and raise awareness of children's needs by using the Olympics as a high-visibility platform.

"We now have managed to bring athletes and world leaders together to discuss the children of the world," Koss said.

Local leaders participating in the roundtable include Coleen K. Menlove, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney.

E-MAIL: sgiles@desnews.com