June 15, 2000

According to TV news reports, organizers of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney plan to restrict public access to the main competition area at Homebush Bay in order to avoid overcrowding during the Games. Security experts have advised SOCOG to provide limited general admission tickets for people without prepaid events, since there was no way to properly secure the site without restricting access to non-ticket holders. The method of distributing the free general admission tickets and the number of tickets available has not been finalized.

Environmental activists, some dressed in mock Coca-Cola cans and other dressed as polar bears, held a demonstration outside the Australian headquarters of Coca-Cola. Greenpeace has targeted the company in an on-going campaign against the use of ozone-depleting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants. Environmentalists estimate Coca-Cola will have 1700 refrigerators using HFCs in Sydney and only 100 coolers that comply with the “Green Games” guidelines.

There’s trouble in the ranks. John Valder, the Australian Prime Minister’s appointee to the Sydney Olympics organizing board (SOCOG) told Australian radio the board often found out about key decisions taken for the Games by reading about them in newspapers. He also said it was strange that a recent board meeting was the first in two months, despite the Games being just three months away. Valder’s comments are further evidence of a rift among SOCOG board members over just who is running the Olympics. A new committee, the Games Coordination Group, has virtually taken over from the board, holding regular but unpublicized meetings, reports The Australian newspaper. The group is headed by board president Michael Knight and includes Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates.

A report says that the 2000 Olympics in Sydney will boost Australia’s economy in the third quarter of this year, but it’s still doubtful as to whether there will be any lasting impact. Non-residential construction in Sydney has seen a marked boost over the past two years on the back of sports facilities and hotel and tourist-related building. Sydney’s hotel rooms are set to increase by 5,7000 in the two years to August 2000. Because of this, revenues from Olympics-related construction have been substantial, with the value of the more than 70,000 contracts put at more than $3.3 billion ($1.9 billion U.S.), including $2.2 billion ($1.28 billion U.S.) in the public sector and $1.1 billion ($630 million U.S.) in private money. But the boom has already passed and construction companies are now noting a downturn.

And finally, Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, said during a visit of the mayor of the Greek city Olympia, that he wanted Moscow to stage the 2012 Olympics. The United States will be selecting a city that plans to bid for the 2012 Games. Moscow has hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were boycotted by many Western countries following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, and next year Moscow hosts the IOC session congress which will select the host city of the 2008 Summer Games. Beijing and Toronto are the two front-runners for the 2008 Summer Games.