Jun. 23/2000

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization has more than tripled the number of staff dedicated to Olympic security and is cooperating with other Australian federal and state agencies, including police and the defence forces, and foreign organizations in joint security strategies. This comes a week after media reports cited U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation staff warning of Islamic terrorist threats during the Olympic Games in Sydney.

Guidelines drafted by the Olympic Coordination Authority aimed at preventing the harassment or forced removal of homeless people from public areas during the Sydney Olympics, will try to ensure sensitive treatment of people sleeping at six areas around Sydney where huge TV screens will broadcast Olympic competition and entertainment. People would not be harassed or relocated from the sites unless there was a threat to general security, to their personal safety or if they were causing a disturbance.

Not again? The New South Wales State government has once again come to the rescue of Sydney’s Olympic organizers. It’s given the committee $84.8 million (U.S.) needed to stage the Games. Half of the money would be reserved for contingencies and would replace the $30.3 million in contingency funds SOCOG had already spent. The rest would be allocated for immediate use to cover blowouts in sponsorship revenue and the increased cost of selling and distributing tickets.

And it’s not over yet. Now the New South Wales state government, underwriters of the Sydney Olympics, has agreed to submit to an inquiry called after it allegedly rushed a $84.8 million (U.S.) Olympics funding boost through parliament. The latest bailout is the third in four months. Independent member Fred Nile will preside over the investigating committee, which will report its findings to parliament by August 29. The inquiry will also investigate last year’s Olympic ticketing campaign.

Meanwhile International Olympic Committee vice-president Kevan Gosper, speaking on Australian radio, apologized to Australians for allowing his daughter to become the first Australian torchbearer of the Olympic flame. Gosper said, “I made a mistake…in respect of not declining the invitation for Sophie to run. It’s not easy to apologize to a friend. I can tell you it’s not easy to apologize to a nation”.

Now it’s Salt Lake City’s turn. All 1300 police officers in Salt Lake City will be trained in the latest riot-control techniques leading to the 2002 Winter Olympics. Utah’s riot teams will employ crowd-control tactics refined by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) now says it will wait at least three months before it decides whether the controversial Salt Lake City bid document called the “geld memo” is worth investigating. The IOC won’t be meeting until September 16, during Sydney’s Games. The dossier lists personal habits, loyalties and family needs of IOC members.

And finally, another one bites the dust. The managing director of the 2004 Olympics, Costas Bakouris, was replaced by Petros Sinadinos, a close ally of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the former bid committee leader who returned last month to take over the Olympic bid. Sinadinos had a key role in Athens’ successful bid for the Games. It was the latest high-level shake-up the Athens Organizing committee has had. In July 1999 the president of the organizing committee resigned and his replacement lasted until May when the new head was appointed. GO TO TOP
June 20, 2000
Low-income earners in Sydney are out of luck. Sydney Olympic organizers won’t be discounting Olympic tickets, a move that was condemned by the New South Wales state welfare association. Sydney organizers said that many tickets were already set at low prices that included the cost of public transport. And cheap tickets won’t be distributed through community and welfare organizations. More than one-half million $10 to $19 Olympic tickets are now available through telephone and box office sales for baseball, mountain biking, and judo –adding to the cheap tickets already on sale for basketball, diving and gymnastics.

They’re trying to get their act together. SOCOG directors will be fully briefed by SOCOG after some members complained they were being frozen out of decision making. And no one else will be let go by SOCOG, following the firing of three communications staff last week.

What’s the rush? Only a dozen people lined up for tickets last Friday at the first box office in which customers could buy Olympic tickets. Glen-Marie Frost, the SOCOG general manager for communication said the trickle of customers didn’t indicate a lack of public interest, but a need for SOCOG to generate more publicity about the volume of tickets still up for sale. Other box offices were expected to open this week at Olympic Park in Homebush Bay, and at Newcastle, Wollongong and the interstate capitals of Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Sydney Olympic officials are playing down reports that Islamic terrorists are planning to target the Sydney Games in September. A report said supporters of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden have been on reconnaissance in Sydney. CBS says U.S. federal law enforcement authorities were worried that bin Laden, working from a base in Afghanistan, has built a network of loyal extremists throughout the Pacific.

IOC vice president Kevan Gosper was expected to be replaced by former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor for a commemorative Olympic torch relay in the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 30.

Victory medals to be used at the Sydney Olympics were officially struck at the Royal Australian Mint. The medal features the image of the Sydney Opera House, the Olympic Torch, Olympic Rings and a Greek goddess. The Royal Australian Mint will be responsible for striking the silver and bronze medals and the Perth Mint in Western Australia will make the gold medal. The Sydney 2000 Games will feature about 300 medal ceremonies.

A Salt Lake City poll says that only 15 per cent of Salt Lake County residents intend to buy tickets to the 2002 Winter Games. But 25 per cent said they probably would purchase tickets. There are 730,000 tickets available to the public. Organizers will start taking ticket orders October 10. Tickets are priced from $20 for some speed skating events to $885 for seats for the opening or closing ceremonies.

Also Salt Lake City organizers could lose $10 million if United Parcel Service (UPS) doesn’t renew its global Olympic sponsorship deal, although Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee said another delivery company could replace UPS. It seems that UPS is having a squabble with Sydney organizers over the distribution of tickets for the Summer Games and this could affect its relationship with the Salt Lake City committee.

Reports say Salt Lake has agreed to share information with possible targets of the federal investigation of the bribery scandal surrounding the 2002 Winter Games. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that SLOC attorney Beth Wilkinson gave a document that she said was being used by federal prosecutors to test the truthfulness of those involved in the bid scandal to former SLOC head Tom Welch.

And finally, John Terrell, president and general manager of Telemundo stations in Salt Lake City and Ogden, said a Salt Lake Organizing Committee executive told him SLOC only wanted volunteers who speak English. Terrell said he even offered to give the committee some free advertising. SLOC officials said they are looking for volunteers fluent in more than one language, including English. SLOC trustee Richard Velez said it was a misunderstanding and he will try to mediate the dispute. He’s been working to organize a meeting of Olympic officials and Hispanic media representatives. SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw said the organization was reaching out to Hispanic and other ethnic groups. She said one out of six volunteers speak Spanish as a second language.