February 18, 1984
Q. Mr. President, this year Yugoslavia is host of the winter Olympic games and the United States of the summer Olympics. We are looking forward to it as an opportunity for strengthening of friendships and understanding among youth of the world. Children in Yugoslav schools even sent a message to the world leaders asking them to stop all wars in Olympic year as was the case in ancient Greece. How important are in today's world such events as Olympic games?
The President. I believe that the Olympic games show the human race at its best. We judge the best athletes in the world according to standards of excellence and sportsmanship, not political and economic doctrine, race, or religion. The Olympics show us what we can achieve when we agree on our goals and pursue them in a spirit of cooperation and understanding. Leaders in government have an obligation to strive for cooperation every bit as hard as our athletes who reach within for the greatest efforts of their lives. Together we should build a safer and far better world for the human family, not just for today but for generations to come. The United States has no higher priority than peace, as exemplified by the Olympic spirit.
Q. How do you see Yugoslavia as a first nonaligned country that will be host of such an event?
The President. As I told President Spiljak during his visit to the United States earlier this month, we greatly admire the effort and care that went into the preparation of the Olympic games in Sarajevo. Athletes, visitors, and Olympic officials have commented that they have never seen a better organized Olympics, and the hospitality of the people of Sarajevo is unsurpassed.
Q. The United States will host the summer Olympic games in Los Angeles this year. What does it mean to you?
The President. It is a great honor. California is my home State, and I know that the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee has spared no effort to offer the world's Olympic athletes and visitors to the games the best possible facilities. All Americans are anxious to welcome the people of the world with the same warm hospitality that was extended to our athletes in Sarajevo.
Q. What is your opinion, Mr. President, about some previous attempts to make the Olympics a stage for political confrontation?
The President. In ancient Greece, the Olympic games were a celebration of human excellence, not of nation states or political systems. That is the great tradition that has brought about the popularity of the modern Olympic movement. We must do everything we can to honor that tradition.
Q. Were you watching the games? Which ones in particular? Were you satisfied with what you saw -- the spirit, the atmosphere?
The President. The Olympic events I have seen on TV have been exciting and inspirational. The competition is fierce and requires great stamina, spirit, and skill. Obviously, we cheer for the men and women on our respective teams. But we can and should celebrate the triumphs of all athletes who compete in the true spirit of sportsmanship and give the very best of themselves. So, while we were thrilled at the victories of our American skiers, we cheered with you when Jure Franko skied to a silver medal in the men's giant slalom. It's been a great event.
Note: As printed above, the questions and answers follow the text of the White House press release.