In his address at the Jan. 28 EDC luncheon, held at the Broadmoor International Center, Bill Hybl, Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation, provided a brief look into his work as U.S. Representative to the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly and as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Hybl gave a warm acknowledgement to Lloyd Ward, new CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, for his commitment to helping U.S. teams prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City – and underscored his own resolve to assure the safety and integrity of the athletes who participate.
Appointed to the U.N. post by President George W. Bush in 2001, Hybl also recalled the vivid events of Sept. 11 – just two days after his arrival in New York to begin work. “I was watching television that morning as we waited for the day’s schedule to begin when I saw the second World Trade Center (WTC) building hit. Immediately the entire tone of the Mission House (where Hybl was in orientation meetings – just 30 blocks from the WTC) changed as the professionally-dressed security guards suddenly became an armed force in SWAT gear, reinforced by police with automatic weapons and rifles, according to Hybl.
He also remembers contacting family members to reassure them that he and his wife were safe. But there was work to be done in his new role, and as the senior political representative from the United States to the U.N., Hybl was responsible for communicating the United States’ commitment to U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and the nation’s support in the world-wide effort to pursue and punish the terrorists responsible. “This was an event that impacted the entire world, and they looked to the United States for leadership,” says Hybl. Later, on Sept. 25, the U.N. issued a resolution declaring war on terrorism. But immediately he realized the tremendous security threat to the upcoming Winter Olympics, and with support from the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense, drafted a resolution which called for an Olympic truce (one of only a handful of truces approved in the U.N.’s 67-year history). After consultation with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Hybl was able to word the Resolution as a call for the “right of free passage” for all Olympic athletes and the safety of the games. The Resolution passed by a unanimous vote of the U.N. General Assembly on December 11th.
Hybl will conclude his service as U.S. Representative to the U.N. in September of 2002, after serving just one term. His role on the IOC will also end with the closing ceremonies in Salt Lake City. Still, this nationally respected public servant sees continued work to be done – albeit closer to home. “The trustees at the El Pomar Foundation have been extremely supportive of my work with Olympics and the athletes. They have also encouraged me to accept Presidential appointments,” he notes. “It’s time now to focus again on projects closer to home and on my family.”
Hybl calls his interest in the Olympic movement “an avocation” and plans to continue serving on two International Olympic commissions and currently presides as Chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating Association. He also serves on the board of U.S. Gymnastics. “Sports are a common denominator – they bring people of all nations together for competition in a non- hostile way,” he says, “and that’s what I love.”