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"Australia: A gold medal Olympic host": address to National Press Club, Canberra, 6 September 2000



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Jackie Kelly, Minister for Sport and Tourism "Australia: A Gold Medal Olympic Host", Address to National Press Club, Canberra 6th September 2000

Australia: A Gold Medal Olympic Host.

That's the theme for my address today - and it's really the whole point isn't it? 

In Sydney in nine days time you will either be a host or a guest, an athlete of the host nation or a visiting nation, a host dignitary or a guest, a host business or a guest, a host sponsor or a guest, a citizen of the host nation or a tourist from the 200 nations competing in 300 events in 28 sports. 

We want the world here as our guests. Since we first went ballistic about being awarded host nation status we have wanted the rest of the world here, we want the world to have a good look, a good experience, and go away thinking we were great hosts from the greatest nation on earth. 

Graeme Richardson told you last week about the incredible amount of work that has gone into putting this mammoth event together, the numbers of volunteers, the logistics, scandals, complaints and efforts to rectify and deal with those complaints.  

When Pru Goward was here a couple of months ago, she made the point that the size of these Games is equivalent to staging 17 Formula One Grand Prix, 28 World Athletics Championships, or 34 American NFL Superbowls and she told you about the many organisations which have been working for years to make the Sydney Games the best ever.  

She told you about the 30 Australian Government departments and agencies that are coordinating everything from communications, national security, quarantine, customs and immigration services, down to the Olympic coin and stamp program. 

Therefore I will give you an overview today of the things within my portfolio that have been happening. 

You all know my background in elite sport. I have spent six years of my life training six hours a day, six days a week chasing an Olympic dream that never materialised for me. So I can readily empathise with the thousands of athletes who did not make

selection this year. But that experience has given me the drive to ensure that we have the best prepared team ever with more chances for success in front of our home crowds than ever before. 

I want the playing field to be fairer than ever before, I want cheats to have more chances at being caught than ever before. I want the host benefits to be more tangible and widespread than ever before, extending beyond sport and tourism into business and future job opportunities for young Australians. I want to ensure that the impact of the Games on all of Australia is so great and the legacy so lasting that Australia is never the same again. 

We must realise that decade of opportunity after these two weeks of elite sport 

This year we are sending a team of 627 athletes, not the 265 we sent to Seoul or 290 we sent to Barcelona. Our team this year will the biggest team there - bigger even than the American team. That means that twice as many Australian families and friends are directly linked to competitors at the Olympic events than before and when you consider the tens of thousands of volunteers, entertainers, workers and torch bearers - you'll find millions of Australians with a direct interest in some part of the Games.  

Through the Olympic Athlete Program, the Australian Government has allocated $140 million specifically to assist our elite athletes prepare for these Games. Thanks to the OAP we sent 420 athletes to Atlanta. This was by far our largest team ever and the purpose was so that many of those athletes would train on and bring that experience with them to the sporting fields of Sydney.  

They have also had the ongoing support for management, coaching and development activities over those six years from the Australian Institute of Sport and Australian Sports Commission, and a mountain of support from sponsors in the private sector. 

Last year was a sensational year for sport. We captured 19 world championships. We won the World Netball Championships; the Rugby World Cup; the Cricket World Cup - and many, many others.  

Currently we have 25 teams ranked in the top three in the world. And there are 21 sports where individual Australian athletes are ranked in the top three in the world. 

It's worthwhile remembering that over 60 per cent of the members of these teams had gone through as AIS scholarship holders. In Sydney, over 300 of the 627 members of the Australian Olympic team are current and past AIS scholarship holders. In Atlanta

Australia won 41 Medals - nine gold, nine silver and 23 bronze. Current or former AIS scholarship holders won 77 per cent of these medals. 

There are many predictions about who is going to do what at these Games and I want to leave that alone. But for me - I'd really like to see the men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, finally get a gold which they well deserve. 

Given the size of the team I believe we could have expected many more disputed selections. However we have worked long and hard with sports to make sure they have proper selection processes in place, the criteria is clear and unambiguous and not based on personalities. While there have been a few appeals, in the main, these have been dealt with expeditiously and importantly, according to a proper process. 

What we've got now is a fairer and more transparent system. Athletes can now have their claim heard, and if they want, go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Before, the only avenue athletes had for grievances was through the formal court system. This can be very costly and time consuming especially in seasonal sport where you don't have six months or two years to await a decision. 

In the aftermath of Sydney I expect we'll see about 60 per cent of our Sydney team retiring. So the landscape of elite sport will change. 

I'm proud to say that the Australian Government has also provided unprecedented support for the Paralympics. The Commonwealth has underwritten the cost of staging the Paralympics by up to $35 million.  

We've provided over $6.1 million for the preparation of the Paralympic Team for Sydney. That's over four times the funding provided for the Atlanta Paralympic team and we were second on the medal ladder in Atlanta. We're also providing almost $1 million to cover the entry fees, registration and uniforms for all of Australia's Paralympians. 

The Paralympics will be a major event - we'll host 4,000 athletes from 125 nations in 18 sports. There will be around 550 events or gold medals up for grabs.  

The Paralympics in Sydney are bigger than the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne; bigger than the 1998 Nagano Winter Games; and bigger than the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.  

And again, our biggest and best prepared Paralympic team will be

competing in Sydney. We'll have 435 Paralympians in Sydney competing for the first time in all 18 sports. That's around double the size of the team we sent to Atlanta. 

And again the AIS has had a major role. The first AIS scholarship was offered to an athlete with a disability in 1989. The AIS Athletes with Disabilities scholarship program has set the benchmark for training athletes with disabilities. 

Talking about athletes with disabilities - let's focus on their abilities for a change. The world Paralympic 100 metre record is held by Nigerian amputee Ajibola Adoeye, who clocked 10.72 seconds. Compare that to able-bodied athlete Donovan Bailey running the 100 metres in 9.84 seconds at the Atlanta Olympic Games.  

Germany's visually impaired swimmer Yvonne Hopf holds the Women's Paralympic record for the 100 metre freestyle at 59.88 seconds. That's only five seconds behind the winning time in the Atlanta Olympic Games. Yvonne's time would have won gold at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games - faster than our Dawn Fraser! 

In Atlanta, Australian Paralympians won 106 medals comprising 42 gold, 37 silver and 27 bronze. Of those, AIS athletes comprised 60 per cent of the gold medal winners, 31 per cent of the silver and 20 per cent of the bronze. AIS athletes set ten world records. 

Paralympians are indeed inspirational athletes but they too have had their selection disappointments. Some of our team are not competing in their pet events. Because a minimum of six athletes from four countries are necessary for an individual men's or women's event to take place, many athletes dreams will now not be fulfilled. In the case of Lachlan Jones, Hamish McDonald, Darren Thrupp and Brian Harvey, they each won gold medals in Atlanta but their strongest event has been deleted from the program due to insufficient competitors. 

One initiative that's really ignited the Olympic spirit across Australia is the Olympic Torch Relay. From those first moments back on the 8th of June when Nova Peris-Kneebone carried the Torch away from Uluru, to this morning when the Olympic torch passed through the Australian Institute of Sport - the home of so many Australian Olympians - we've been treated to some truly uplifting images. 

I believe the reason the torch has attracted the crowds is because parents find it inspirational for children. We celebrate success. I was at the Penrith torch celebrations over the weekend and I've got to say it was a delight to see the parents, the grandparents, whole family groups, right down to the littlies coming together in a local

community gathering to share in the excitement and joy that the torch created. 

When you see young children speechless with excitement... When you get a crowd in town larger than the town population to watch the torch go past, you know that the Games spirit is alive and well across Australia.  

Now to the hottest topic of the moment - drugs in sport.  

I'm very proud to say that the Australian Government has led the way in the international fight against drugs in sport. We've confronted the doping issue head-on. And are providing the most level playing field in decades for international athletes to compare aptitudes. 

I'd like to take you over a couple of highlights during my term as a Minister so you can get a feel for just how far we've come and what we've achieved.  

In May last year, I launched the Government's Tough on Drugs in Sport strategy, as part of the Government's broader Tough on Drugs strategy. It's a comprehensive, whole-of-Government approach to fight the use of drugs in sport. Today, a little over than a year later, I'm delighted to launch a report card for Tough on Drugs in Sport. Copies are available here today. I encourage you to get a copy and read it.

After the farce in Lausanne early last year where international sporting bodies demonstrated their lack of will or inability to take action, Australia convened its our own International Drugs in Sport Summit held last November which was attended by 20-odd governments including some heavy hitters like the USA, France, Canada and China. From this we saw an unparalleled degree of international government support for anti-doping outcomes. 

The Summit also hastened the formation of the World Anti-Doping Authority (or WADA). Australia has taken a position on the WADA Foundation Board and its Executive Committee as one of the two representatives of the Oceania region. 

WADA didn't exist 12 months ago and is now conducting an unprecedented number of out-of-competition tests across the world in the lead up to the Sydney Games. 

At Australia's instigation, the World Anti-Doping Authority has agreed to act as an independent observer of the Games testing program. This will deliver accountability and transparency - and therefore confidence that there will be no positive results

unreported or unactioned - in the Sydney Games. 

In my many discussions with the IOC, I also sought and won agreement for drug testing in the two-week lead-up to the Games, that's once the athletes had entered the village.  

This is a world first.  

These tests will be conducted in addition to the 2000 tests being conducted on placegetters and at random throughout the Games. 

There have been allegations of widespread use of synthetic Erythropoietin or EPO by cheating athletes, particularly those in the endurance sports.  

To back up our commitment to detect artificial EPO, the Australian Government led the way by committing $1.5 million to research on an EPO test. This research funding - plus the dedicated work of our fantastic scientists - have delivered an effective test for synthetic EPO. 

To its credit, the IOC matched this funding. And as of last week we have an EPO test for the Games. This is a huge step forward in the fight against drug cheating in sport - and an outstanding achievement for Australia.  

Getting the EPO test to this stage has been a massive undertaking. Scientists from the AIS and the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory led a team that included scientists from France, Norway, Canada and China. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to recognise those scientists which have made this test possible. From the AIS - Robin Parisotto, Dr Chris Gore, Michael Ashenden, Dr Peter Davis, Dr Ross Smith and Dr Allan Hahn. From the ASDTL - Dr Ray Kazlauskas, Dr Kerry Emslie, Chris Howe and Dr Graham Trout. And from the University of Melbourne - Dr Ken Sharpe. 

The combined urine and blood test will set a new benchmark for drug testing in sport, heralding a new era in the fight against drugs in sport. This means that blood testing will now be a permanent feature on the sporting landscape. It will be there at future world championships and Olympics.  

The adoption of the test also means that the Sydney 2000 Games will have the tightest drug testing regime of any sporting program staged anywhere in the world. 

Under our Tough on Drugs in Sport strategy, we have changed legislation so that the Australian Sports Drug Agency, the

Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Customs Services can exchange information and more easily track down cheats.  

State and territory governments have agreed to introduce uniform and harsher penalties for manufacturing and trafficking anabolic steroids. And high profile education campaigns are promoting and reinforcing Australia's anti-doping policy. 

The athlete education campaign culminated in the True Champion Passport, which I launched on 20 July. The Passport includes a summary of the athlete's ASDA drug testing results and gives athletes the opportunity to stand up and be counted. Because of privacy laws, ASDA is not able to divulge the personal drug testing histories of individual athletes. 

Through the Passport, athletes can now publicly and proudly demonstrate that they don't use performance-enhancing drugs. The Australian Athletes of the Year, Ian Thorpe and Louise Sauvage, took time out from their training schedules to be at the launch, demonstrating their commitment to the ideal of pure performance. 

Again under our drugs in sport strategy our drug testing and detection programs have been increased to unprecedented levels in the lead-up to the 2000 Olympic Games and beyond. During the 15-month period leading up to the Games, our testing program will include a total of over 7000 tests. I'm proud to say that Australia's drug testing program is backed up by a world's best standard laboratory, using state-of-the-art testing equipment. 

The Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory is one of only two IOC-accredited labs in the Southern Hemisphere, and also has ISO accreditation. Both of these accreditations are recognised worldwide.  

The Sydney 2000 Games will be the first in which an existing laboratory, and not one created specifically for the event, has been used to carry out the drug testing program. 

During the Olympics, the laboratory will operate 24 hours a day and analyse over 2000 samples. Given we normally conduct 4000 to 6000 tests ar year, testing 2000 samples during the Games is quite a logistical undertaking - but we're ready.  

But let's be clear - we can't guarantee that the Games will be completely drug-free. There'll always be some cheats who'll take the risk. But I can give you one guarantee - that we're taking every step possible to deliver the best available anti-doping regime in the world. 

We're setting new world benchmarks for future sporting events. As I mentioned before, blood testing is now here to stay. We're closing the net on the cheats. We can be proud of the legacy we leave to Athens in the fight against drugs in elite sport. 

So how do we spread the games beyond Sydney? There's no doubt about the importance of these Games for Sydney. They are -after all - the Sydney Games. 

Sydney will be left with a marvellous legacy of world class sporting facilities. But I believe that the Games are also important for the entire nation. The Federal Government has done all we can to make sure the limelight, and the benefits, are spread well beyond Sydney and New South Wales. 

To their credit the Olympic organisers have scheduled soccer matches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and here in Canberra. As the only Olympic sport being played outside Sydney and New South Wales, the Olympic football tournament will bring the Olympic spirit - and tourist dollars - to these cities.  

With 1.6 million tickets for sale, the soccer tournaments will attract more spectators than any other Olympic sport. Soccer will also be instrumental in spreading tourism opportunities beyond Sydney.  

During the period of the Games, over 110,000 international visitors will come to Australia. And about a quarter of those visitors will travel beyond Sydney, visiting other parts of Australia. However, current estimates suggest that up to 360,000 Australians will be pouring into Sydney during the Games from right around Australia. 

This will create a vacuum effect. One of the things we must do is ensure that we build on the enormous value of Australian domestic tourism. Over the last few years, outbound tourism has increased at an annual rate of about eight per cent. But domestic tourism has increased at only one or two per cent a year.  

In order to boost the numbers of domestic tourists - and counter the Olympic effect - the Federal Government has committed $8 million to grow the overall domestic tourism market. This initiative will be spearheaded by a new promotional campaign - See Australia. The See Australia campaign is scheduled for launch in November.

The campaign will encourage more Australians to take a break, and show them some of great holiday experiences they can have right here in their own country. The See Australia campaign is good news for regional Australia. I'm confident it will boost domestic tourism - and therefore tourist spending and job creation - in many regional areas, thereby providing a balance to the Olympic effect.  

In addition to See Australia, the Federal Government has funded an ambitious four-year program through the Australian Tourist Commission to maximise the tourism potential of Australia as the Olympic host.  

Led by the ATC, this promotional and media relations campaign includes Tourism New South Wales, the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other state and territory tourism bodies.  

This powerful partnership will ensure the whole of Australia reaps the benefits of the Olympic decade of opportunity.  

And this is the world's biggest-ever media program. 

The IOC has hailed it as a role model for future Olympic host countries. Michael Payne, the IOC's Director of Marketing, told a Sydney news conference: "It's great to see the tourist industry fully taking advantage of the opportunity of hosting the Olympic Games. It's something that we have never seen take place to this level before."  

As part of the ATC's media relations program, over 1800 foreign journalists visited Australia over the past year. These visits alone will generate an estimated $1.3 billion in positive media coverage for Australia.  

As well, the ATC has formed partnerships with key Olympic sponsors, who are spending an additional $300 million promoting Australia through a range of joint marketing programs.  

For example, Kodak, a worldwide Olympic partner, is helping Australia to build on its reputation as one of the world's most photogenic destinations through promotions in the United States and the United Kingdom. The partnership has been highly profitable for both parties. It's given Australia sensational international exposure and provided Kodak with an effective channel to leverage its Olympic sponsorship. 

Our Games will not only be the most televised and watched Olympics to date, but also the most watched event in history. Olympic coverage will be broadcast to virtually the entire world, reaching a massive 3.7 billion people around the globe.  

Can I commend the official website http://www.olympics.com/eng/ -built, run and managed by IBM - as an excellent example of the great coverage and exposure being generated for Australia? This site alone will generate six and a half billion hits over the 12-month life of the site and three billion hits during the 17 days of the Games. This is thirty-five times the hit rate for Atlanta. 

In all, the media coverage being generated is worth billions of dollars.  

The Australian Tourist Commission will be working closely with the Sydney Media Centre to provide visiting media with information, footage, images and story ideas.  

The ATC is also working closely with official Olympic broadcasters like the NBC network in the United States, providing story leads, production assistance and the best sound and vision of all regions of Australia. 

This massive promotional effort will change forever the way the rest of the world sees us.  

Our objective is have the rest of the world think of Australia as the smart, sophisticated, contemporary, skilled and technologically advanced nation that we are. We're focusing on every aspect of our lifestyle and culture, including travel, the arts, business, entertainment and cuisine.  

The coverage is adding depth and dimension to Australia's image, positioning us as an important trading partner as well as an exciting tourism destination.  

Some may ask, "What about the Indigenous protests?" 

Well, the eyes of the world are upon us and they will look at every aspect of our nation. I believe those protests will be judged as evidence of a strong and vibrant democracy, rather than as evidence of underlying civil unrest that makes Australia an unsafe place to invest or visit, or a nation with a weak democracy subject to pressure groups and corruption.  

We will be making the point that this Federal Government is very aware of the numerous aspects of indigenous disadvantage left by previous governments. We are working to address key aspects like health, housing, education and employment. This year, targeted Commonwealth spending on indigenous specific programs totals $2.2 billion - the highest on record. These facts will also be available to the international media so that their examination of the issue is balanced. 

The Tourism Forecasting Council tells us that just because of the Games, an extra 1.6 million visitors will come to Australia between 1997 and 2004. These additional visitors are estimated to generate over $6 billion in foreign currency earnings, and create over 150,000 jobs. 

International visitor arrivals in the first six months of this year are up 9.2 per cent, compared to the same period in 1999. This is fantastic growth. The ten-year period after the Games has been dubbed "the tourism decade". International visitor arrivals during this period are forecast to grow at over seven per cent a year. We expect that by 2008 we'll double our present number of inbound tourists to eight million a year. This translates to tourism export earnings of approximately $32.9 billion and up to an additional 400,000 new jobs.  

Sure these figures sound impressive - but just stop for a minute and think about what might be possible. 

Consider what Ireland is achieving right now. This small island nation of 3.6 million people attracts 5.5 million tourists a year. That's around 153 per cent of their population. If Australia could achieve a similar rate of inbound tourists, we'd be looking at around 29 million visitors a year. You may say this is an unrealistic, perhaps even a crazy comparison. Or you may say that Ireland can achieve these numbers because of its proximity to large population centres in Europe. 

Well, we're also quite close to larger Asian population centres. While 29 million people does seem like an ambitious target - and perhaps not achievable, a small increase in the share of the Chinese market could blow the current estimates clean out the water. 

The Olympics and the afterglow period will provide a massive boost to our tourism industry. But this isn't the end of the story. As any advertising expert will tell you, exposure doesn't equal conversion. The Australian Tourist Commission and other tourism agencies know that when the flame goes out in Sydney, the real work will begin. The real challenge will be converting desire to decision. The ATC is finalising plans for post-Olympic programs designed to convert the record level of interest in Australia into actual holiday bookings. 

As well as maximising the tourist potential of the Games, the Commonwealth is leveraging business opportunities from them. About 80,000 international business people are expected to visit Australia in the lead-up to, and during, the Games. About 25,000 of these international business visitors will be coming as part of the Federal Government's initiative, Business Club Australia.  

Every one of these visitors represents trade and investment opportunities for Australia, as well as another very welcome guest. Business Club Australia is hosting networking events throughout

the Olympics to showcase our business capabilities. For example, I'll be speaking at a series of networking sessions organised by my portfolio and Australia Sport International to promote Australia's sports-related business expertise to the world. 

Australian companies specialising in the design, construction, fit-out and management of sporting facilities have already earned export dollars on the back of their Olympic involvement. The magnificent Olympic facilities at Homebush have won international accolades and are now helping to win export orders.  

Another initiative is Investment 2000. This is a joint venture partnership between major Olympic sponsors - the Commonwealth Government, Telstra, Westpac and the New South Wales Government. It was set up to leverage business opportunities in the two years leading up to the Olympics. It has held many promotional events in major cities right around the world. 

In 1997 we established Australia Sport International, or ASI, to promote the exports of sports-related products and services. ASI, in conjunction with my Department, is hosting three sports business networking events at Business Club Australia during the Olympics. These sessions will provide opportunities for a number of international sports business people and officials involved in bidding for major sporting events to see what we've got. They will be able to meet a range of Australian businesses involved in the Olympics preparation and management. 

As I said at the beginning of my address, Australia is determined to produce a gold medal performance as a Games host.  

Our welcome will be warm and inviting.  

Our climate and our culture will have universal appeal.  

We'll have better prepared athletes than ever before.  

The facilities will be the best yet.  

We'll deliver the toughest anti-doping regime possible.  

We'll provide more opportunities to do business than ever before. 

You won't recognise Australia in the decade out from the Olympics.

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