SYDNEY: The 500 days countdown to the Sydney Olympics begins today with
the Australians looking pretty confident as most of the work is bang on
As proud as their world famous Opera House, the hosts are looking
forward to unveilling the 27th edition of the Games from Sept 15 to Oct 1
2000, that will herald the new millennium.
No boomerang effect has happened though the world economy has had its
ups and downs as the Sydney Olympics progress report says it is 80 per
A visit to Sydney last week was greeted by a positive outlook of the
city's state of readiness despite the fallout from the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) sleaze scandal.
Confidence is written all over the face of the Sydney Organising
Committee for the Olympics Games (SOCOG) which was established on Nov 12
1993 after the IOC awarded the Games to Sydney at a meeting in Monte Carlo
on Sept 23 1993.
Responsible for preparing the Games venues and delivering them is the
Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA).
And the theme for their work and responsibilities is: "OCA provides the
theatre, SOCOG puts on the show."
Both Scott Crebin, the SOCOG media information co-ordinator, and Sandie
Watson, the OCA manager of international media relations, were a picture
of enthusiasm and optimism as they took me on a guided tour of the Olympic
site - the 760-ha Homebush Bay in the heart of Sydney.
Up to 10,200 athletes with about 5,000 support staff from 200 countries
and 15,000 members of the world press catering to an audience of 3.5
billion are expected to converge on the Games.
"Although the new Olympic venues are due to be completed at least one
year before the Games, 80 per cent of the facilities are well ahead of
schedule," said Sandie.
"This will give the athletes and Games organisers time to try out the
new facilities in a series of pre-Games test events.
"In fact, a series of tests, consisting of special events, have already
been successfully carried out while we have a long list lined up until the
"Technical officials and volunteers are being trained at the venues to
handle matters like accreditation, transport, security, broadcasting,
media and other services."
Sandie said in most cases, SOCOG will conduct the events or share
responsibility with the relevant national federation.
The 110,000 capacity Australia Stadium - the main venue of the Games and
centrepiece of the Sydney Olympic Park - has already hosted a Test match
between Australia and New Zealand.
Australia Stadium will be officially opened on June 12 with a soccer
match between the Australian XI and the Rest of the World.
The stadium, built at a cost of A$690 million (RM1.725 billion), began
its construction in September 1996 and was completed in March this year.
Another test of the facilities, its transport aspect, was held during
the 1998 and 1999 Royal Easter Show by the Olympic Roads and
ORTA came up with a successful transport strategy where, in a trial run,
a total of 1.1 million people commuted to Homebush Bay by public transport
over 16 days. Some 78.5 per cent used the train and 21.5 per cent the
eight new regional bus routes.
The A$95 million Olympic Park railway station was opened on March 8
1998. It includes four below ground platforms and a rail loop connecting
onto the main line near Flemington and Lidcome.
At peak attendance on Easter day, passengers to Homebush Bay approached
Olympic levels for the first time. This included a peak of 43,645 people
arriving by train where the rail loop can handle about 30 trains per hour
and a passenger capacity of 175,517.
The IOC Transport Working Group gave the thumbs up after observing the
successful "simulated runs".
A Bee Gees Concert was also used to test the transport system,
especially during the dispersing of the crowd after the show.
The Games plan itself is based on a commitment to provide the right
conditions and atmosphere for athletes to peform at their best.
For the Games, access to the venues will only be by public transport
with a Park `N Ride system adopted.
For the first time in Olympic history, all athletes will live together
in one village with most able to walk to their events.
All Olympic events will be held in metropolitan Sydney (except football
preliminaries in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra). All
competition venues will be within 35 minutes travel from the Olympic
Village and no training facility will be more than 45 minutes away.
The Sydney Games will focus on four precincts - Sydney Olympic park,
Darling Habour, Sydney East and Sydney West - with all the areas connected
by road, rail and water transport services.
"Everything is well ahead of schedule and we are confident that
everything will go smoothly when the big day arrives," said Crebin.
"However, like all Games, we do expect some unforseen or last-minute
hitches, but we have contingency plans.
"We are confident that everything will be ironed out before the Games by
having many tests earlier."
HOMEBUSH BAY VENUES AND FACILITIES
1 Sydney SuperDome
* Due to open in December 1999
* Accommodates a maximum of 15,000 people for smaller events, through to
a maximum of 20,000 people for concerts.
* Adjacent 3,500 car park.
2 Stadium Australia
* Already completed and being used for Australia soccer league matches.
* Official opening of the stadium scheduled for June 12 where the Rest
of the World Team will play Australia XI in a soccer match.
* 110,000-seat capacity for the Games.
* Will host track and field, marathon, football final and opening and
closing ceremonies for the Games.
* After the Games, will seat 80,000 people for sporting and cultural
3A Sydney International Athletic Centre
* Opened March 1994
* A multi-functional, two-arena complex with international track and
* Seating capacity of 15,000.
* Warm-up facility for the Games.
3B Sydney International Athletic Centre
* Training venue for the Games.
4 Sydney International Aquatic Centre
* Opened in October 1994.
* Just under 5 million visitors since opening.
* Leisure, training, Olympic and utility pools in a temperature-
* Landscaped leisure garden, child minding centre, gymansium, restaurant
* Currently seats 4,400 with capacity for 15,000 during Games.
5 State Hockey Centre
* Opened August 1998.
* New surface for both pitches.
* Olympic capacity 15,000 people.
6 State Sports Centre
* Opened in 1984, this multi-purpose venue features Australia's first
sporting Hall of Champions.
* Venue for Olympic table tennis and taekwondo.
7 Tennis Centre
* Centre court and two show courts.
* Seven match courts.
* Six practice courts.
* Venue for Olympics tennis and Paralympic wheelchair tennis.
* Scheduled to be completed in September
8 Golf Driving Range
* Opened in 1995.
* Accommodates up to 60 players at a time.
9 Australia Centre
* Commerical precinct.
10 Homebush Bay Information Centre
* Opened January 1997.
* Close to half a million visitors since opening
* 19-level, 168-room Novotel.
* 9-level, 150-room Ibis Hotel.
* Due for completion in early 2000.
12 Olympic Park Station
* Walking distance to major facilities.
* Capacity to move 50,000 people per hour during major events.
13 Olympic Boulevard
* 1.5km boulevard through the centre site.
* Links major sporting venues, the Olympic Village and other facilities.
14 Sydney Showground
* Opened April 1998.
* Includes pavilions, sports halls/exhibition space, main arena.
15 Main Arena
* Main Arena of Sydney Showground will be used for baseball during and
17 Athletes Village (not shown)
* Accommodation for 15,300 athletes and officials.
* A new solar-powered suburb for up to 6,000 people after the Games.
18 Homebush Bay Warf (not shown)
* Opened September 1997.
* 30 minutes from Circular Quay.
19 Sydney Interantional Archery Park (not shown)
* Opened July 1998.
* To seat 4,000 people during the Games
20 Millennium Park
* A major new metropolitan park.
* Walking and cycle paths.
* Larger than Sydney's Moore Park and Centennial Park combined
* Dramactic feature of Millennium Parklands
* Formerly the quarry for State Brickworks
22 Bicentennial Park
* Opened in 1998.
* 60ha wetland and 40ha parkland