Yugoslavs are counting on the fun, friendship and frolics...


SARAJEVO, Yugoslavia -- Yugoslavs are counting on the fun, friendship and frolics of the 14th Winter Olympic Games to blot out the city's grim image in world history.

It was in Sarajevo, in June 1914, that a young assassin murdered Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The killings touched off World War I and 'Sarajevo' has been a code word for catastrophe ever since.


But 70 years later, the country born of that war is playing host to a record 50 nations entered in the Winter Olympics Feb. 8-19, and Yugoslavs hope Sarajevo's image will be forever changed.

The Sarajevo games are the first Olympiad with the United States, the Soviet Union and China all taking part. China last participated in 1932, before the Soviet Union began competing.

Yugoslavia has spared nothing in trying to make a success of the biggest sports event ever held in this Balkan nation.


The government turned Sarajevo, a picturesque town of 45,000 dotted with Serbian Orthodox and Croatian Roman Catholic churches and Moslem mosques, into one vast building site to get it ready.

The city sparkles with new hotels, new roads, a reconstructed airport, a rebuilt railway station. Apartment complexes were thrown up to serve as the Olympic village for athletes and journalists and as homes for Sarajevo residents when the games are over.

All the competition sites are within 14 miles of Sarajevo itself. Sports facilities built in the Bjelasnica and Jahorina mountains south of town will remain after the games, perhaps converting the Sarajevo area into a permanent winter resort.

Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together one of Yugoslavia's six constituent republics, won the 14th Winter Games in May 1978 when the nation had a healthy economy. Within a few years it was in economic crisis, burdened with a foreign debt of about $20 billion.

But Sarajevo and its state came up with about 80 percent of the $130 million organizers say have been spent on the games. The Yugoslav federal government contributed 5 percent, with the remaining 15 percent coming from other Yugoslav states.

'There was disbelief and suspicion or even jealousy at the very beginning that one town and its small state was able to organize an Olympic games,' said Zdravko Mutin, president of the Yugoslav Olympic committee.


He credited the success to financial support 'from all parts of Yugoslavia' and to the sports experts, drivers, waiters and many others who have been sent to Sarajevo to help the games.

Snow conditions are good, despite an unusually dry and mild November and December. Security has been tightened, and already policemen carrying submachineguns are almost commonplace sights in Sarajevo streets. About 200,000 young people have been hired to help prepare for the games and aid foreign visitors.

The biggest Olympic athletic contingent comes from the United States, with 126 men and women -- one more than the Soviet Union. The West Germans are entering 96 athletes, China 37, Italy 92 and Austria and host Yugoslavia 89 each.

But the 1,600 competitors will be outnumbered more than 4 to 1 by some 7,000 newspaper, television and radio reporters and crews.

Games organizers say they can accommodate about 45,000 visitors in hotels, motels, luxury villas or rooms in private houses. They estimate another 30,000 people will pour into town daily. Downtown Sarajevo has been blocked off into 'blue' and 'red' zones, where only cars and buses with Olympic stickers will be allowed.

The Olympic flame from Mount Olympus in Greece is being flown from Athens to Dubrovnik, a southern Yugoslav resort on the Adriatic sea. Relay runners will take it from there across Yugoslavia to Sarajevo, where it is to arrive during a formal opening ceremony Feb. 8 at the Kosevo soccer stadium.


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