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VISA OLYMPICS OF THE IMAGINATION TO AWARD 25 YOUNG ARTISTS WITH FREE TRIP TO '94 OLYMPICS IN NORWAY

 SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Ten talented youngsters from the United States will win spots on a special international team of 25 student artists to go to the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, next February. But artistic, not athletic, prowess will be what qualifies them for the trip.
 To mark the 100th anniversary of the Olympic movement, Visa has launched an international art contest called the Visa Olympics of the Imagination, which begins this week across the United States, Canada and Norway. Schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 13 will be challenged to draw or paint a picture depicting their vision of what the Olympics will look like 100 years from now. Through the program, 25 winners -- 10 from the U.S., 10 from Norway and five from Canada -- will be selected for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
 In Norway, Visa will host the children and their parents for four full days of spectacular Olympic highlights from Feb. 12 through Feb. 15. The competition winners will enjoy Lillehammer's Olympic Opening Ceremonies held at the Lysgardsbakkene Ski Jump Arena. They will also hobnob with Olympic VIPs at a special dinner, join Olympic athletes for a special luncheon, and attend several Olympic events, from figure skating to alpine skiing to ice hockey.
 "What better way to raise awareness of the 100-year Olympic history and its founding ideals of sportsmanship and unity among nations than by bringing together the children of the world to share visions of the future of the Games," said John Bennett, senior vice president of Visa International.
 Visa has established partnerships with 10 top U.S. newspapers to conduct the contest. Schools will be reached through the newspapers' in- school education programs, affording as many children as possible a chance to participate. Contest announcements and entry forms will appear frequently in participating newspapers until the contest's entry deadline of Oct. 15. Newspapers participating in the program are the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Boston Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Times. Winners will be announced on Dec. 7.
 For the contests, each newspaper will form a judging panel composed of art critics, sports and education editors, and local art experts. Judges will select three finalists to be awarded a gold, silver and bronze prize -- gold prize winners will go to the Olympics. The newspapers will be the exclusive distributors of entry forms within their areas and may be contacted for additional information.
 Visa, a worldwide Olympic sponsor since 1986, is also a sponsor of the U.S. Ski Team, the U.S. Decathlon Team, the U.S. Figure Skating Team and the U.S. Gymnastics Team.
 Visa is the largest consumer payment system in the world with more than 10 million acceptance locations and 309 million cards issued worldwide, including 152 million in the U.S. Visa also has the leading global ATM network.
 -0- 8/31/93
 /CONTACT: Brad Hennig of Visa International, 415-358-2435; or Ann Wool, 212-704-8118, or Susan Donnelly, 212-704-8166, both of Edelman P.R./


CO: Visa International ST: California IN: SU:

PK-SG -- SF004 -- 7591 08/31/93 15:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 31, 1993
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