April 7, 2000

Aboriginal leaders have now tried to play down threats of violence at the 2000 Sydney Olympics over an Australian government report on the longtime policy of taking Aboriginal children from their families. But they wouldn’t assure there would be no violence during the Games.

Sydney has another ticket crisis. Apparently the Olympic committee made the mistake of copying large souvenir tickets used during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but the tickets were too big for its turnstiles and were not bar-coded which renders scanners useless. The tickets can’t be canceled or replaced, which compounds security problems if the tickets were lost, stolen or damaged. Millions of tickets in the first batch to be delivered to ticket holders could be affected. But Olympic officials said regular tickets would fit into turnstiles. The new domestic distributor, TNT, does not have the technology to scan the souvenir tickets.

Because all of Sydney’s hotel beds are booked for the 2000 Games, Health Care of Australia, a private health company, plans to offer empty hospital beds, but only for staff, their family and their friends. The packages range from single beds at $45 (AUS) per night to a ward of six beds at $144 (AUS) per night.

Temporary legislation recently enacted would punish unlicensed sellers of goods and services during the 2000 Games in Sydney and will reduce some restrictions on noise pollution, business hours and alcohol sales. The legislation will empower employees of the Olympic Coordination Authority, which is responsible for the operation of all venues, to impose fines on the spot. And noise restrictions would be lifted in at least six sites in Sydney where large TV screens will be placed, and banks which are usually open Monday through Friday would have service seven days a week.

Greenpeace has accused Olympic sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald’s of being “dirty” Olympic sponsors. Greenpeace spokesman Corin Millais said both companies had undermined the idea of the “Green Games” by using refrigeration methods containing ozone-depleting hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) instead of eco-friendly alternatives at Games venues. He said Sydney won the right to host the Olympics partially on the strength of its Green Games concept, to which Greenpeace was a vital contributor.

For the first time during a Winter Olympics since 1972, female athletes will not get a gender test during the 2000 Games in Sydney and the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Modern doping controls, which require athletes to produce a urine sample in the presence of a medical official, have reduced the chances of men competing as women.

And finally, there may be another competitor for the 2012 Olympic Games. Tel Aviv is considering bidding for the Games and Mayor Ron Huldai and local International Olympic Committee representatives at a recent news conference presented a skeleton model of the proposed Olympic venue, set along the Yarkon River. The cost of hosting the Games was estimated at $9.6 billion, most of which would cover massive infrastructure costs including the construction of a subway system. Huldai said, “hosting the Olympic Games is a great challenge which has helped cities and states before to shorten a gap of tens of years of infrastructure development”.