G'DAY FROM DOWN UNDER.
SYDNEY, Australia - G'day! Today's assignment (never mind it's already tomorrow here): to have a geezer at the host city for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Good on ya' if you know we're talking Australian slang for ``take a look at'' and not alluding to the 109-year-old mate, Jack Lockett, who carried the torch awhile in the ongoing Olympic relay and then repaired to a bar for a couple of tinnies (cans of beer).
In honor of the 27th Summer Olympics, we've had a shot at compiling 27 things you should know about Sydney and its Games that might or might not be as useful as a third armpit. It's nothing any conchie journo (conscientious journalist) wouldn't do:
1. Host Australia is one of only three countries - along with Great Britain and Greece - to have attended every Summer Olympics.
2. Sydney won the right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics by one vote over Beijing. Melbourne won the right to host the Games the first time they were held in Australia, in 1956, by the same slim margin over Buenos Aires.
3. In announcing Sydney's triumph in 1993, outgoing International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch mispronounced the city's name, calling it ``Sidinee.''
4. Homebush Bay, where most of the sports venues are located, is a reclaimed industrial wasteland located nine miles northwest of the central business district, as downtown Sydney is called. The 1,900-acre site once harbored the largest slaughterhouse in the Southern Hemisphere. At its peak, 20,000 animals a day were killed.
5. There are an estimated 40 million kangaroos in Australia, which is twice the country's human population. Australia has a land mass comparable to the continental U.S. but boasts only six cities with populations exceeding 300,000.
6. Nearly one-third of Sydney's residents were born in another country. Roughly 25 percent of Sydneysiders speak a language other than English at home.
7. The Sydney International Aquatic Centre is no ordinary bogie (swimming hole). Twelve world records in individual Olympic events have been set at the Olympic facility over the past two years, including two by Studio City's Lenny Krayzelburg.
8. The Sydney Olympics have been coined ``The Green Games'' because of the Australians' commitment to making this the most environmentally friendly, energy-efficient Olympics. Event organizers, in partnership with Greenpeace, drew up rigid guidelines relating to the ozone layer and global warming.
9. The Olympic Village is the largest solar-powered suburb in the world.
10. Sydney's most identifiable landmark, the 25-year-old Opera House, was supposed to take six years to build at a cost of $7.3 million. It took almost 15 years to complete, cost $102 million and caused its stressed-out architect, Dane Jorn Utzon, to resign midway through the project.
11. Australia has less than one percent of the world's population but more than 20 percent of the world's slot machines.
12. For exercise-addicted Olympic visitors in need of a Stairmaster fix, there's always the AMP Tower. Rising 1000 feet, it's the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Its observation deck can be reached by climbing 1,474 steps - or taking an elevator that ascends 76 floors in 40 seconds.
13. Stadium Australia, the site of the opening and closing ceremonies, seats 110,000. It is the largest facility built for an Olympics. In February, the 80-year-old Samaranch proclaimed it ``the best Olympic stadium''and managed to pronounce Australia correctly (see No. 3).
14. It is a punishable offense in Australia not to vote in a national election.
15. Only 15 percent of Australian households have cable television, compared to nearly 80 percent in the U.S.
16. Ten thousand athletes in 28 sports will compete in Sydney, making it the largest Olympics in history.
17. The Australian government has spent $327 million in taxpayer money on sports, with 88 percent of that money earmarked for the care and training of its Olympic athletes.
18. ``Rainbow Six,'' a recent Tom Clancy thriller, contains a subplot in which terrorists scheme to spike a mist cooling system during the Sydney Olympics. Australians immediately recognized it as an act of fiction given that the weather in Sydney in September - average temperature: 51 to 67 degrees, with capricious winds - precludes any need for a cooling system. Indeed, Olympic visitors are advised to rug up (dress warmly).
19. Australia has 7,000 beaches. Included among those are three in and around Sydney in which swimsuits are optional. Beaches are patrolled on a voluntary basis by members of the ultra-prestigious Manly Surf Lifesaving Club.
20. The world's first beauty contest to feature competitors being judged in swimsuits took place at Sydney's Maroubra Beach in February of 1920. The first Miss America was crowned the following year.
21. Australia will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its federation in 2001.
22. A recent survey by an Australian airline revealed that 560,000 of Sydney's 4 million residents were planning to leave town during the Olympics.
23. Australia is home to 166 of the world's 370 species of sharks. A few boldly showed their fins a few months ago in Sydney Harbour, the site of the one-mile swim that kicks off the inaugural Olympic triathlon. The water in September is considered too cold to turn triathletes into shark brekkie (breakfast).
24. She'll be apples (everything will be OK); the last time a shark killed a swimmer in Sydney Harbour was 1963.
25. Between August of 1999 and August of 2000, Australian customs officials made a record 1,125 seizures of performance-enhancing drugs. The good oil (truth)? It wouldn't be a modern Olympics without a furphy (rumor) being spread about the illegal drug use of some prominent performer.
26. The water in the pools at the International Aquatic Centre contains only trace amounts of chlorine and not because Aussie swimming sensation Ian Thorpe is allergic to the stuff. As part of a ground-breaking ozone filtration system, the water is cleansed with special filters.
27. The world's 10 most poisonous snakes all are indigenous to Australia; 11 if you count media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 12, 2000|
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