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IAAF President Nebiolo to meet Nobel Peace Prize winners David Trimble and John Hume in Belfast tomorrow

IAAF President Nebiolo to meet Nobel Peace Prize winners David Trimble and John Hume in Belfast tomorrow

25 March 1999 - Belfast - IAAF President Dr Primo Nebiolo, will be received in the Northern Ireland Parliament tomorrow, at 11:30, by the Rt Hon David Trimble, First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Rt Hon John Hume, leader of the SDLP, on the eve of the 27th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast.

The two leaders, who last year received the Nobel Peace Prize, wish to express to the world athletics movement the appreciation of the entire country and its different communities, for the choice of Northern Ireland as host of a sporting event involving over a thousand athletes from seventy nations representing all five continents.

The decision to organise this edition of the World Cross Country Championships in Belfast was taken in the Spring of 1995 and voted unanimously by the whole IAAF Council, in answer to a request by Don Allen, the chairman of the Northern Ireland Sports Council.

At that time, the peace process in this tormented part of Europe was far from completion, but the hope that it might soon become reality lay behind Don Allen’s request and the desire of President Nebiolo and the whole athletics movement to support it.

Now that, despite all the difficulties, the dream is close to becoming reality – under the terms of last year’s Good Friday agreements – the presence of so many athletes acquires a special significance. It bears witness to the desire of youngsters from around the world to live together in peace and asserts the right of all to live and compete in a context of peace and mutual respect and understanding.

Dr Nebiolo declared, in this context: "I am convinced that the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland will offer the warmest of welcomes to the athletes competing in the 27th World Cross Country Championships and that this great event will take place in an atmosphere of tranquillity. Cross country is an Irish tradition and our coming here is also recognition of the history of the Irish people as a whole.

"I am especially grateful to the two Nobel Peace Prize winners, David Trimble and John Hume for their interest and participation in our event and for receiving me in the Northern Ireland Parliament. In these difficult days for Europe, it is particularly comforting to see a message of peace and brotherhood emanating from Belfast."