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Athens Environmental Foundation Brings the "Wreath" to Iraq

Emeryville, CA, February 4, 2004; The Athens Environmental Foundation (AEF), at the invitation of the Interim Committee to Administer Sport in Iraq (ICTASI), participated at the election of the New Iraq Olympic Committee on January 29, 2004 and dedicated the Global Olive Wreath to the new Iraqi Executive Board.

AEF Executive Board member and Olympian Michael Voudouris joined the delegation that attended the elections in Sulaimaniya City (Northern Iraq) together with members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), members of the Iraqi Governing Council, and representatives from the United States Government.

Voudouris presided at a dedication ceremony, as part of AEF's Global Olive Wreath Project, in which he presented the Spirit of Athena Award to the members of the new Iraqi Executive Board, including its President, Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor Al-Samarrai. The Global Olive Wreath, a project inspired by the three official Olympic dimensions of Sport, Culture and the Environment, involves the planting of trees in six continents along the 2004 Olympic Torch Route as well as in the world's most troubled places including Iraq, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland.

On April 30, 2004, schools around the world will participate in AEF's Olympic Year Global Olive Wreath Project where Olympians will join school children to plant trees on that date to honor the homecoming of the Olympics to Greece this summer. The events are designed around a "homecoming" theme and will welcome home Olympians and welcome every country into the Global Olive Wreath of peace, and prosperity. The Global Olive Wreath encompasses the three Olympic dimensions and includes the participation of Olympians at tree-planting events the world over. Schools in every country, including Iraq will be planting trees to honor the homecoming of the Olympics.

As a foundation, AEF seeks to inspire schoolchildren and people about the Olympic ideals of Sport, Culture, and care for the Environment, and in the spirit of the ancient Greeks, bring a message about peace and democracy with its worldwide programs.

AEF is the world's leading organization promoting global "homecoming" celebrations to honor the return of the Games to Greece for the first time this century. "The ancient Greeks gave us two magnificent gifts, the Olympics, which is the celebration of peaceful competition through sport, and democracy," said Tony Diamantidis, AEF Founder and Executive Director. "As an emerging democracy, it is fitting that Greeks have a presence both in the restoration of the Olympics in Iraq, and as a witness to the promise of democracy there."

The Iraqi Executive Board expressed its gratitude that an Olympian from the country that is hosting this year’s Olympics was present at this momentous event. Voudouris, Salt Lake 2002 Greek Olympian, said, "I am honored to be present at the first democratic election of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee in over 40 years. It is with great joy that we welcome Iraq into the Global Olive Wreath and look forward to Iraq’s participation in the Olympic games in Athens”.

The Athens Environmental Foundation (AEF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to organize, support and promote global programs for Sport and Environmental responsibility associated with the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and future Olympic Games. In 1994 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted the Environment as the third pillar of the Olympic charter, along with Sport and Culture. Since that time, environmental responsibility has been at the heart of the Olympic movement.

To learn more about AEF, visit their website at or contact them at


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