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2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games Set to Begin.

Former President Clinton, Bill O'Reilly and Senator Mitchell and 155 Countries Set to Descend Upon Kingston

KINGSTON, R.I., June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The campus of the University of Rhode Island is humming with activity this week as high school students from around the world begin arriving for the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games.

Most of the scholar-athletes and artists will unpack their bags on Saturday, which is the official start of the nine-day event. That night in Keaney Gymnasium, renowned environmentalist Claes Nobel, a member of the Swedish family that founded the Nobel Peace Prize, will welcome the students. But there will also be some early arrivals this week in Kingston, among them a group of students and volleyball coaches representing Nigeria and a small delegation of scholar-athletes and scholar-artists from Latvia.

All of the scholar-athletes and artists will be staying in dormitories at URI for the duration of the Games. In all, more than 155 countries and all 50 states will be represented at this year's Games, according to Suzanne Coffey, Commissioner of the 2006 World-Scholar-Athlete Games. This is the fourth time that the non-profit Institute for International Sport, which is based at URI, has administered the World Scholar-Athletes Games and each time, the event has grown to include more countries and more scholar-athletes, Commissioner Coffey said.

"Our goal was to establish the largest global community possible in these conflicted times. We not only achieved that goal, I am proud to say we exceeded it," Commissioner Coffey said. A new partnership that the Institute for International Sport has with the United Nations helped to attract participants to the Games, Coffey said. This partnership will be recognized on Tuesday, June 27, which has been named UN DAY and will feature a visit by Djibril Diallo, who heads the UN Sport for Development and Peace Project.

Indeed, the list of countries whose flags will decorate Keaney Gym and other URI forums through July 2 when the Games end, reads like a United Nations directory. It includes powerful nations like China and the United States, as well as smaller countries, such as Liberia, Cambodia and Ghana, still struggling to recover from poverty and war.

The scholar athletes and artists representing these countries are accomplished in either a sport or artistic endeavor, as well as academics, and are viewed as having leadership potential. They include the affluent as well as the indigent and will bring with them an equally diverse range of experiences.

"The idea of the Games it to not only makes these fine young men and women think about important world issues and train them to become effective leaders, but also to broaden their understanding of the world's different cultures and problems," said Daniel E. Doyle, Jr., the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for International Sport and the World Scholar-Athlete Games. "If they can learn, first-hand, from each other what it's like to grow up in a country experiencing conflict or famine, they are likely to be more compassionate leaders and seek peaceful resolutions, when it is their turn to lead the world," Mr. Doyle said.

The scholar-athletes and artists will include a young man from Liberia who lost both parents in that country's civil war, a delegation of Israeli students that will include Israeli-Arabs and a group of Iraqi students willing to share what it has been like for them since coalition forces, led by the United States, toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Monday, June 26, has been set aside as World Peace and Non-Violence Day and will conclude with a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton. Clinton will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Ryan Center at URI.

"We have invited speakers who are not only well-known, but who will also make these young people hone their skills as critical thinkers," Mr. Doyle said. The line-up includes provocative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly, who will address the topic of immigration, Olympic skier Bode Miller, his first public appearance since the 2006 Winter Olympics, former Connecticut Governor John Rowland, who will speak about abusing power while in office and Senator George Mitchell of Maine. Mitchell will speak on Friday night during a program designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Institute for International Sport.

All of the events at the 2006 World-Scholar Athlete Games are open to the public, but tickets are needed to hear many of the speakers. For ticket information and a complete schedule of events, log on to http://www.internationalsport.com/sa2006/.

The scholar-athletes and artists can expect to be very busy while they are in Kingston. With the help of hundreds of volunteer coaches, artists, musicians, and chorale directors, they will spend approximately three hours each day practicing their chosen sport or artistic activity, then get together for leadership training and serious discussion about world events.

To lighten the experience, several youth-oriented entertainment events are planned, among them movies, karaoke, and performances by the West Coast rock bands Hogan's Alley and Summit Avenue and RI's own Monty Are I.

"Our hope is that the scholar-athletes and artists leave the Games with a better understanding of who they are as gifted young people and how they can contribute to society. We want them to realize that they are more alike than different, and that their talent and energy is urgently needed in this world," Commissioner Coffey said.

CONTACT: Cynthia Stern for the Institute for International Sport, +1-401- 521-2700 ext. 190, or cell: +1-401-474-0810, cstern@rdwgroup.com

Web site: http://www.internationalsport.com/sa2006
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Date:Jun 21, 2006
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