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The Olympic Flame and the Idea the New York Mayor Had

19 Iun 2004 - 00:00

OBSERVATOR - June 19 2004

The 19th of June will be a date to remember for Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian former gymnast: Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City wanted Comaneci to carry the Olympic Flame in a parachute dive off the Empire State Building.


The ceremony will turn out to be very unusual for both Nadia Comaneci and the people of New Work. She will jump off Empire State Building, which is now the tallest sky-scraper in the Big Apple, while carrying the Olympic Flame in her hands. After this parachute dive Comaneci will get back home, to Romania, and then leave for Portugal, where she will follow the final matches of the European Soccer Championship.

Michael R. Bloomberg insisted Comaneci to be one of the people touring the five New York districts with the Olympic flame in hands. The rap music star, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and the CNN anchorwoman, Paula Zahn. Other, are among other well-known personalities to carry the Olympic flame around New York.

The International Olympic Committee granted Comaneci the official status for the duration of the Olympic Games to take place in Athens between 13 and 29 August.
This means she will be able to invite in her turn one more person; Comaneci will also enjoy hotel accommodation and have a car for driving her around at the IOC expense. This status is enjoyed by members of the IOC, presidents and general secretaries of international sports federations and national Olympic committees only.
"Such gesture goes as recognition of the merits our great champion has; this places her in a very propitious position for year 2006, when new members are to be selected for the IOC," said Dan Popper, general secretary of the Romanian Olympic Committee.

As for the rumors crediting the idea that Athens will not be ready in time for the Olympic Games, Dora Bakoyannis, the city mayor, wanted to dispel them. She stated that "Athens will be ready for the summer Olympic Games by August 1st . It is true there had been some delays in erecting the infrastructure needed for the completion, but you will see on August 1st, when all venues will be open for viewing, that Athens will be ready for the task."
Octavian Vintila, the well-known radio-anchor, came back yesterday afternoon from the United States, where he witnessed the final rehearsal of the ceremony to take place in New York. "The Olympic flame will travel at its longest in recorded history, and go to the cities that hosted over time the Olympic Games. Tomorrow, the Olympic Flame will arrive in New York. Why New York? Because this is a symbol city for the Americans and Mayor Bloomberg had the ambition to go in history and asked his aides to come up with an unusual idea that will have Nadia Comaneci as a central piece.
This is how the idea of a parachute jump off the Empire State Building came up. I witnessed the rehearsal and I am sure it will be awe inspiring," said Vintila. The traffic around the sky-scraper will be stopped 24 hours ahead of the hour set for the event; last time this happened was 19 years ago.
So, on Sunday, at 05:52 Romania time, Nadia Comaneci will jump in a parachute dive off the Empire State Building, and carry the Olympic Flame down to earth. "I am extremely proud to represent Romania for an event that is sure to go down in the history of the Olympic Flame. This is another performance to me, that adds up to those I did as a gymnast. I feel very proud and satisfied," said Comaneci.
Translation: ANCA PADURARU

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