June 5, 2000

The five-hour closing ceremonies at the end of Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games on October 2 being held in the main stadium at Homebush Bay will have 110,000 spectators and is being promoted as the biggest in Olympic history. It will feature 7,000 performers including 1,000 ballroom dancers, and require 50,000 sequins, 100,000 meters of fabric and 30,000 liters of paint. The closing ceremony will also include the finish and medal ceremony of the men’s marathon.

Waverley Council has ordered signs saying “no pedestrian access”. The signs are to be in place during high tides following concerns that waves might trap pedestrians against the wire fencing at the site where the volleyball stadium at Bondi Beach for Sydney’s 2000 Games is now under construction. Olympic Co-ordination Authority spokesman Bob Bowden was reported as saying that his organization had warned that public excessive weather conditions could cause temporary closures.

Olympics Minister Michael Knight is defending a policy to deny general access to the site of the Olympic Games’ main venues to international broadcasters who haven’t paid multi-million-dollar rights and fees. He said public safety and the welfare of the Games’ sponsors were the main reasons to restrict the broadcasters. Instead the Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA) plans to hold a daily lottery that would allow eight non-rights-holding broadcast outlets into the public areas of Sydney’s Olympic Park in Homebush, where most of the events will be staged. USOC spokesman Mike Moran said that non-rights holders, including CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports might not broadcast from Sydney unless the OCA changed the rules.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that no Web broadcast or biometric technology would be authorized for use during the Sydney Games. The IOC, SOCOG, and major technology sponsors such as IBM, have avoided the very latest computers and software, and are opting for upgraded version of older systems from Nagano and Atlanta, in order to avoid technical glitches that occurred at the Atlanta Games. The IOC also confirmed that athletes in Sydney “will not be permitted to carry or allow third parties to place any electronic device on their person for the purpose of gathering biometrics data for Internet or other use”.

Science has come a long way. DNA from an Australian athlete will be incorporated into the label tags of licensed Olympic clothing to prevent counterfeit merchandise at Sydney’s Games. The authenticity of each item can be verified using an electronic sensor to scan the DNA in the tags. Sydney Games merchandise is a $100 million (U.S. $57 million) industry and without adequate checks on counterfeit material, both at venues and on the streets, fake souvenirs could generate up to $30 million for shady entrepreneurs. The DNA tagging will make it virtually impossible for counterfeiters to imitate the merchandise, with up to 1.13 quadrillion possible variations of the code.

For the first time the public will be able to get a first crack at the 730,000 tickets available for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City by clicking on SaltLake2002.com. Ticket orders will be taken starting October 10. And anyone interested in watching the Games can register on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s (SLOC’s) Web site to receive information on ticket prices and availability. SLOC will return all e-mail. Ticket prices range from $20 for short track speed skating to $425 for the gold-medal hockey game. Opening and closing ceremonies are going for $885. Starting September 6, tickets for such high-demand events as opening and closing ceremonies will be sold to the highest bidders in an Internet auction.

And finally, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s (SLOC) federal tax return for 1998-99 showed that $12 million in legal fees were paid during this period because of the Salt Lake scandal. According to the tax return Latham & Watkins, the national law firm brought in to represent SLOC in its dealings with U.S. Department of Justice officials investigating the scandal was paid $1,259,560 for its first six months. That amount is up to $2.1 million.