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Official Launch of Goodwill Games

October 4, 1999

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ A chamber quartet played under threatening skies and American track star Michael Johnson and Australian swimmer Grant Hackett showed up a few minutes late.

But nothing could dampen Ted Turner’s enthusiasm when he helped officially launch the 2001 Goodwill Games on Monday.

``I can’t think of a better backdrop for the first Goodwill Games of the new millennium than Brisbane,″ Turner said on the third day of a fly-in visit with his wife, Jane Fonda, to help publicize the games to be held Aug. 29-Sept. 9, 2001.

Turner, vice-chairman of Time Warner and the founder of the Goodwill Games, followed up on a decision by the International Olympic Committee over the weekend to allow Sydney to fly the Australian Aboriginal flag during next year’s 2000 Games.

``We’ve been in a huddle with the officials and we are going to fly the Aboriginal flag at the Goodwill Game events as well,″ Turner said.

More than 1,300 athletes will compete in 14 sports at the invitation-only event, the first time the Goodwill Games will be held outside the United States or Russia.

The Queensland state government is contributing about $20 million to the Goodwill Games, which it hopes will inject about $130 million into the state’s economy.

``I got my international start at the Goodwill Games, so they have always been very important to me,″ said Johnson, who broke the 400-meter world record at the world track and field championships in Seville, Spain, in August.

The 32-year-old Johnson said earlier in his visit that next year’s Sydney Olympics, where he will try to repeat his gold medal double in the 200 and 400 meters, will be his last Olympics, and that the Goodwill Games will mark the end of his competitive career.

Johnson, who has won five Goodwill Games gold medals, and Hackett, the world 1,500 meters champion, are acting as official ambassadors for the Games. Johnson has competed in all four previous Goodwill Games.

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