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Melbourne 2005 Deaflympic Games off to a flying start.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Rod Kemp Minister for the Arts and Sport

5 January 2005

Melbourne 2005 Deaflympic Games off to a flying start Speaking at the official Opening Ceremony for the Deaflympic Games, the Federal Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, today welcomed athletes, officials and visitors from around the world to the event in Melbourne.

"This is the first time in its 80 year history that the Games have been held in Australia and it is an honour for us to be the host nation," Senator Kemp said.

"Tonight we are celebrating the dedication and hard work of the athletes, team officials and families of all 78 countries competing at the Games. What an honour it will be to share your journey over the coming days of competition.

"Hosting these Games will be an enriching experience for Australians and an important benefit of the Games will be an increased awareness and understanding of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing culture."

Reading the Prime Minister's welcome message for the event, Senator Kemp highlighted that the Australian Government was proud to be part of the Games and working with the organisers to make them a success.

Speaking to more than 10,000 VIPs and spectators at the Opening Ceremony, Senator Kemp congratulated Deaf Sports Australia and the Melbourne 2005 Organising Committee on their outstanding contribution to staging the Games.

"From tonight's official opening to the closing celebrations, Australia's skills at hosting a world-class sporting event will be on show and I'm confident we'll provide a safe, harmonious and exciting event," Senator Kemp said.

Senator Kemp also wished the 228-strong Australian team and other competing nations every success in their sporting endeavours during the event.

The Australian Government has provided $4.15 million to assist stage the Games and for elite athlete preparation, and $400,000 to reduce the cost of participating in the event for each Australian athlete.

MELBOURNE 5 January 2005

Media contact: Adrian Chippindale 02 6277 7350 or 0407 208 743