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Slovenian officials: Olympic for intercultural dialogue
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09:45, August 14, 2008

Slovenian sports officials highlighted the significance of the Olympics in promoting intercultural dialogue and expected more cooperation with China in the field of sports after an memorandum of understanding was reached between the two countries last week.

"Sport is a perfect mechanism for intercultural dialogue," said Dr. Milaw Zver, Minister of Education and Sports, in Beijing on August 11, in an interview with People's Daily Online. He also described the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8 as "perfect." Recognizing that the part displaying Chinese traditions was in some ways difficult for people from Western countries to understand, he stressed that it was the point of intercultural dialogue to study and to understand each other.

As the president of the European Council of Education, Sport and Youth Policy for the first half of the year during Slovenia's EU presidency, Dr. Zver strongly opposed the idea of any boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

"We must develop more mechanisms for being together, not conflicts or boycotts," he said.

"As the UN does not organize football games, the Olympics cannot solve political problems," added Mr. Janez Kocijancic, President of the Slovenian National Olympics Committee, who was also impressed very much by the combination of the traditional and modern elements of the opening ceremony.

Both of them also stressed the importance of the Olympic opportunities which many athletes only have once or a few times in their entire career.

The MoU signed between Dr. Zver's department and China's State Sport General Administration on August 1 will "open the door to cooperation on sports science, cooperation between sport experts and student exchanges," according to Dr. Aver.

"Even without this agreement, China and Slovenia already have a relatively high-level, good relationship in the field of sports," he said.

Sixty-two Slovenian athletes compete in 13 events in the Beijing Olympics. They expect to do well in rowing, shooting, and swimming.

The country is strong in winter sports. The two officials hope that China could learn from Slovenia in expertise and facilities of winter sports; and Slovenia could learn from China in some other sports in which China dominates.

Sara Isakovic won a silver medal in the women's 200-meter freestyle swimming event on August 13. It is Slovenia's first Olympic medal in swimming.

By People's Daily Online

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