Some 420,000 free passes will be distributed to people without tickets for Olympic events to allow them to soak up the atmosphere at the Sydney Games next month, Olympic Minister Michael Knight announced Sunday.
Olympic organisers made the move to prevent a large number of non- ticket holders visiting the Olympic Park alongside some 750,000 ticket holders expected on peak days. Organisers feared transportation nightmares and heavy congestion around the venues.
Knight said that a total 370,000 passes will be given out for the Olympic Park on nine not so busy days during the 15 September-1 October Games. The other 50,000 are for admittance to the Botanical Gardens for the triathlon events.
Illegal doping substances are available in abundance at gyms in the Olympic host city of Sydney just five weeks before the start of the Games, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.
The report said a journalist approached dealers at a local gym with a shopping list and walked away with 710 dollars worth of banned anabolic steroids and assurances more was available without any problems.
The trade is allegedly made with Australian firms using licences to export animal steroids to countries like Mexico and then recycling them back to the black market. Bodybuilders, the report said, acted as the frontmen to inform prospective clients of the availability of steroids.
Undeterred by crackdowns, those involved in the trade are confident that plenty of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs will be on offer to supply demand through the Olympics.
Human rights activists in Australia and abroad condemned Friday a proposal to give the military supreme power during the Olympics.
The legislation would give soldiers the power to open fire in a civil emergency and the authority to stop, search and detain civilians.
Australian Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O\'Gorrtan said a major concern was the absence of a provision for the powers to be dismantled after the Games.
"If the parliamentarians are fair dinkum that they only intend the army to be used in extreme circumstances, then what have they got to fear from a sunset clause? Why won\'t they insert one in the legislation?" he said.
Jeanette Fitzsimons from the New Zealand Green Party echoed concerns across that once in place the legislation would be hard to dislodge.
"These powers include the right to search premises without a search warrant and to detain people without arrest." Fitzsimons said. "I am particularly concerned that this legislation is beings shepherded in because of fears about protest at looming controversial events but once it is introduced it is there for good."
Outrage over Olympic food fare
Sports fans and consumer groups on Friday blasted the beefy profit margins that McDonalds and other caterers can expect at next month\'s Sydney Olympics, Bottled water for sale at Olympic venues will double in price for the 16-day sport extravaganza while the cost of ice creams will shoot up by half.
"These prices are outrageous," said the Australian Consumer Association\'s Louise Petschler. "People will have a perception that they are being ripped off."
Organisers defended the hikes, saying that the mark-ups would have been greater if officials had not played hard ball and bargained caterers down.
"I believe the prices listed are justified," said catering manager Hugh Taylor,
arguing that the erection of marquees, Olympic uniforms and sundry other items had to be taken into consideration.
A "sundry item" Taylor failed to mention was the 4-20 percent that organisers will cream off a catering turnover expected to top US$ 58 million.
New setbacks for Australian aborigines on 11 August have raised fears they may stage violent protests after all at the upcoming Sydney Olympics.
"The deals no longer count. Black Australia will rise," said local Aborigine activist Lyall Munro in the wake of a police raid on five houses in a predominantly aborigine area named "The Block".
\'This is an attempt to get rid of a site of shame. Anyone who says this has nothing to do with the Olympics is making fun of us. We will now march, stage blockades and set up signs in each park in town," Munro added.
New South Wales Prime Minister Bob Carr swiftly denied the raid, during which 16 alleged heroine dealers were arrested, had anything to do with the Olympics.
"That is ridiculous. The raids were part of a programme directed against drug dealers," he said.
Up to now aborigine activists had promised peaceful protests to inform the world about their social status during the Games. Earlier this week they asked for permission to demonstrate at Sydney airport, but have been denied any protests at the Olympic venues.
Local organisers and the International Olympic Committee have a big interested in a peaceful Olympics and IOC boss Juan Antonio Samaranch announced he planned to meet with aborigine leaders soon after his 4 September arrival in the host city.
While some inhabitants of The Block did welcome the police raid and said they were happy that measures were taken against drug dealers and addicts, the aborigines did suffer a real setback from a court ruling in Darwin, Northern Territories.
Two Aborigines taken from their parents 50 years lost a test case brought against the Australian government arguing that the state had failed in its duty of care by separating them from their families and bringing them up in white institutions.