Feb. 16, 2000
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Activists want to stop construction of the Olympic beach volleyball stadium. And, if need be, they say they will lie in front of the bulldozers.
The protesters gathered at the headquarters of the Sydney organizers on Wednesday as the IOC executive board met inside.
Lenny Kovner, spokesman for the Bondi Olympic Watch, said 860 ``Bondi Warriors'' were signed up to help prevent the temporary 10,000-seat stadium on one of Australia's most famous beaches.
``No stadium will be built at Bondi Beach,'' Kovner said of the feud between Bondi residents and organizers.
The street outside SOCOG headquarters was closed off. Nearly 100 people rallied against what they insist are the problems that come with the Olympics: environmental damage, homelessness and higher rents and taxes.
One protester wore a mask depicting IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch. Others held shields featuring the words ``greed'' and ``bribes.''
More than 20 uniformed police observed the peaceful protest.
TICKETS PLEASE: Sydney organizers promised all Australians a ``party atmosphere'' throughout the games.
But IOC coordination committee chairman Jacques Rogge said Wednesday that access to Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, the hub of the games, could be restricted to those holding tickets in case of overcrowding or security concerns.
``This is not going to be a systematic measure, it's going to be assessed every day by the Olympic Coordination Authority,'' Rogge said.
Welfare groups contend the restrictions discriminate against those who can't afford tickets.
``It gets the balance terribly wrong,'' said Gary Moore, director of New South Wales Council of Social Services.
ATHENS UPDATE: Organizers of the Athens 2004 Olympics want to streamline procedures to ensure that planning does not fall way behind.
The IOC expressed concerns last year about delays while the organizers and Greek government debated issues. But organizing committee president Panayotis Thomopoulos assured the IOC executive board Wednesday that construction, transportation and security were on schedule.
``Delays can be fatal,'' he said. ``All decision making and implementation has to go very fast. We're accelerating both.''
Thomopoulos said the executive board was convinced that ``things are moving much faster in Greece than before.''
Greece is holding national elections in April, and Thomopoulos said the early political transition will remove a potential stumbling block.
``We don't interfere ... but the fact that there is an early election date is a good thing,'' IOC director general Francois Carrard said.
BIDDERS UP: The IOC will decide on Aug. 28-29 which of the 10 cities that have applied to hold the 2008 Summer Olympics will advance to the next stage of the bid process.
The IOC began the procedure Feb. 24 with a meeting of all candidate cities: Beijing; Toronto; Havana; Bangkok, Thailand; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Osaka, Japan; Paris; and Seville, Spain.
Under reforms prompted by the Olympic corruption scandal last year, the cities will face a rigorous screening process to determine whether they meet the minimum requirements.
Cities passing that test will become official bidders. The winner will be selected by a secret IOC ballot in Moscow in July 2001.