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Coe looking to mirror Sydney

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Coe looking to mirror Sydney

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SYDNEY – With the volunteer programme for the London 2012 Olympics set to launch, Sebastian Coe paid tribute yesterday to the organisers and workers who delivered a “staggering” Sydney Games a decade ago.
Australia’s biggest city was celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Sydney Olympics with a series of celebrations, including a commemoration for former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and runner Cathy Freeman re-enacting the lighting of the cauldron.
Samaranch, who died earlier this year, had described Sydney 2000 as the “best Olympic Games ever”. Jacques Rogge, who succeeded Samaranch as head of the IOC, said yesterday in a recorded message that “the 2000 Games went down in history as a model of organisational success”.
Coe, head of the London 2012 organising committee, said Sydney had “put the smile back on the face of the Olympic family” in the wake of the problems at Atlanta in 1996.
“Never was a city so vibrant, excited and frankly embracing of an Olympics games,” Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 1 500 metres, told a fundraiser for Australia’s 2012 Olympic team. “Venues never so full. Sport, never so inspiring.
“This was the Olympic movement – faster, higher, stronger – like it had never been before.
“As we drive toward London, you have given us in our organising committee a template,” he added. “You delivered a staggering games.”
Coe commended the thousands of smiling, helpful volunteers for turning “a good games into a great games” and urged Australians to encourage people in Britain to get involved in London 2012.
The main Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush has become a thriving retail and sporting hub attracting $1 billion in investment since the games and up to 9.1 million visitors each year. The Athletes’ Village was transformed into the upmarket suburb of Newington.
Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates, who was head of the Sydney organising committee and is now on the executive board of the IOC, said he was proud of the benchmarks set in 2000. (AP)