Olympic Summer Games - Why Tourists Are Attending - "Support The Games" Grassroots Campaign Promotes Olympics

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"Support The Games" website promotes the Olympics. See http://www.supportthegames.org for regular updates.

The founder of a previous grassroots national campaign which brought 5,000 people to NYC after 9/11 - see: http://www.epiccusa.com - is now onto a much larger project and with only days to go. Mitch Goldstone founder of "Support The Games" is preparing to bring business leaders from across the nation and abroad to Athens to demonstrate that it is safe to attend and vital to participate and support the Summer Games. The See: http://www.supportthegames.org

"Support The Games" - Update on campaign to support the Olympics See website: http://www.supportthegames.org

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/08/03/sections/sports/sports_columns/article_189246.php (text below)

OC Register, Aug 2, 2004

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

American fans head for Athens

By MARCIA C. SMITH

The Orange County Register

Mitchell Goldstone isn't an athlete. He played tennis, soccer, "all the normal stuff" as a kid, but he never won ribbons, trophies, medals or the sports hardware that clutters the walls and garages of Olympic hopefuls.

Yet Goldstone, a likeable fellow who runs 30-Minute Photos Etc. in Irvine, is packing for the Olympics, folding and cramming his favorite red, white and blue shirts and jeans, all his stars and stripes and everything else that will show his true colors.

Goldstone will toss in his U.S.A. ballcap and two, maybe three small American flags - the handheld kind he can wave proudly from the stands.

His flight, which will take him 7,000 miles, leaves in a week and a day for Athens, the 2004 Summer Games and his fifth trip to an Olympics.

As a fan.

As a spectator.

As more this year than ever, an American.

"It's really important to go to the Olympics to support America's team," said Goldstone, 41, who lives in Irvine. "We should wave our flags and wave our credit cards to show our pride in our country and our business community."

NBA players with the cash for entourages, thick-necked bodyguards and personal security details have turned down invitations to play on the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team because of security concerns.

They saw risks. They made choices. They're staying home.

But Goldstone is going to Olympics for fun and by choice.

He isn't a member of the media or working at the Games. He isn't a father or a brother or a neighbor of an athlete. He doesn't know any Olympians personally, though he's up on the fact that three - Jason Lezak, Aaron Peirsol and Amanda Beard - of the 38 members on the U.S. swimming team are from his hometown.

Goldstone is going to Athens as an American citizen, traveling on the power of his hard-earned dollar and on his own free will.

"Somebody has to cheer for the Americans," said Goldstone, who will attend the Games with his business partner, Carl Berman, 40, also of Irvine. "At least two of us, will."

Goldstone started a grassroots campaign to get other business owners to join him at the Olympics as a exercise in patriotism and commerce.

On Sunday, Goldstone launched a Web site, http://www.supportthegames.org, a not-for-profit site that helps people book last-minute plane trips, reserve hotel rooms and order event tickets for the 2004 Olympics, which begin with the opening ceremony on Aug. 13.

"We are urging business leaders from across the nation to join Support The Games and demonstrate their resolve that the Olympics must continue as the world's biggest sporting event where all nations join together," Goldstone wrote on the Web site's home page.

Goldstone refuses to cave to the terrorism that paralyzed so many Americans after the attacks of Sept, 11, 2001. He won't be intimidated by anti-American sentiment that swelled at the World Athletics Championships in Paris last year, where Americans were booed because Jon Drummond laid on the track to protest his disqualification in the 100 meters.

Goldstone is strong enough not to be baited by foreigners who see Americans as egocentric, arrogant braggarts who won the 400-meter relay and strutted around the track with a giant American flag and their glistening gold medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Goldstone was there - and at Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and Nagano in 1998.

He has tickets to events at Athens and will be in the stands to throw his hands toward the heavens and cheer for the Americans competing in swimming, diving and track and field.

"I'll be vigilant," he said. "And I won't be obnoxious."

Goldstone trusts he will be safe in an Olympic city guarded by 70,000 military and law enforcement officers, a blimp patrolling the skies and SCUBA divers policing waters surrounding the ports.

"I'll be fine," he said.

Everything we see tries to convince us that it is a dangerous time to be an American outside of America, that we would be provoking foreigners if we don't trade the fist-pumping, flag-waving, "We're No. 1" shouting American pie jingoism for humble pie asceticism.

We read that Greek officials have asked U.S. and Israeli athletes not to wear their "colors" in public.

We hear the United States Olympic Committee has instructed athletes not to wave the American flag and parade around the venue after a victory.

"We're not the favorite kid in the world right now as far as a country," acting USOC president Bill Martin said. "Obviously we are sensitive, not only to the issue of security and jingoism, if you will. That's why we are sending people around to educate the athletes as to the appropriate behavior.

"It's going to be a tough games for us - as a country, not just as individual athletes, trainers and coaches."

Olympic sponsor adidas has unveiled its podium outfit that American Olympic medal winners are required to wear during the awards presentation. The warm-up jacket is white, with beige and gray accents - nothing featuring big Fourth of July, America the Beautiful red, white and blue.

Nothing featuring stars and stripes. Nothing with the true colors that one American from Irvine refuses to hide.

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