The slogan "Say No to Drugs" received a new twist yesterday as more than 300 people gathered at the Capitol to kick off the Washington City Games and to encourage Washington's youth to "Say Yes to Sports."

The opening ceremony of the City Games brought together local athletes, Olympic medalists and the event's sponsors. The City Games aims to provide inner-city youngsters with a host of free clinics on various sports throughout the summer. In doing so, it is intended that Washington children stay off of the streets and remain on playgrounds, devoting their time outside of school to sports.

Judge Reggie Walton, who works in the Executive Office of the President on drug control policy, addressed the gathering and voiced support for the idea.

"It's going to take all kinds of effort," he said. "We need constructive activity for youngsters to participate in."

Several former Olympic medalists attended the ceremony, which included an exhibition by 200 taekwondo practitioners.

Sharon Jewell, a bronze medalist in the sport at the 1988 Olympics, urged young athletes to be "steadfast and be the example. It's easy to go along with the crowd. It takes a special person to say yes to sports. Always, always remember to do the right thing."

The City Games is a privately funded endeavor patterned after the New York City sports festival. Michael Weintraub, the organizer of the District and New York events, hopes to spread the idea to 35 other cities.