Nov Peris-Kneebone, an Australian sprinter and a women’s field hockey gold medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Games, will be the first of 11,000 torchbearers to carry the Olympic flame in Australia. The Olympic flame will complete its longest journey in history as it is carried from Athens, Greece via the Pacific to Australia and on to Sydney for the Sept. 15 opening of the 2000 Games. On its 100-day journey around Australia, a support team comprising of a fleet of 72 Holden vehicles, two articulated trucks and five Harley Davidson motorcycles will accompany the torch relay. The vehicles will transport torchbearers to and from their relay segments and carry supplies. The Mother Flame will be rekindled in Olympia on May 10 to mark the start of the Torch Relay in Greece. It will later be flown to Guam for the start of the Torch Relay’s journey through the nations of Oceania before arriving at Uluru on June 8 for the start of the relay in Australia.
Aboriginal leaders are now threatening to disrupt Sydney’s Olympic Games on its first day, because a federal government submission to a Senate inquiry said the policy of separating Aboriginal children from their families had affected no more than 10 per cent of the Aboriginal population. Lyall Munro, Olympic protest campaign delegate to the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council told The Sun-Herald that all bets were off. “Aboriginal people will rise up in this country and show the world how racist Australia is.” Charles Perkins, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission director and also a “stolen generation” child said the claim by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron would force Aboriginal people into direct conflict with the white community. “Certainly the Olympic Games will now be in jeopardy”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Ukraine government has approved bonuses to athletes winning medals in Sydney. Every gold, silver and bronze medalist will get $50,000, $30,000 and $20,000. And every Russian athlete who wins gold in Sydney will earn $50,000 from the Russian Olympic Committee. Also Belarus has offered free housing to all medal winners in the summer and winter Games.
Claiming that scaffolding and rigging around the cauldron in the Olympic stadium which will hold the Olympic flame at the Sydney Games is unsafe, 15 construction and metal workers stopped construction work last week pending an investigation. It comes on the heels of a walkout of builders at the Sydney International Aquatic Center because they felt that sections of a 12,500 seat extension were not sound and should be redesigned.
Salt Lake City Olympic organizers may have another tax problem because they didn’t report $48,514 in secret consulting payments to former USOC official Alfredo La Mont. La Mont pleaded guilty to tax fraud for failing to report the income to the IRS.
According to the International Skating Union (ISU), skaters who have turned professional will be barred from the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta told a press conference at the World Figure Skating Championship that “on the basis of the present rules there is no possibility; they are 100 per cent excluded”.
And finally, author Andrew Jennings, who is an ardent critic of both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president Juan Antonio Samaranch, has written his third book on the IOC, called The Great Olympic Scandal, to be released in July. At a recent round table discussion Jennings said that the IOC is corrupt beyond repair and the only solution is to take it apart completely and rebuild it. His two earlier books about the IOC were The Lord of the Rings and the New Lords of the Rings.