After the Event
To Let: Perfect Venue, Olympic Games or Similar
So taken was the world with sydney's flawless performance as Olympic host last year that some visitors suggested she become the permanent home for the Games. That, for many good reasons, will never happen, though it would ease a big headache for the New South Wales government: what to do with the money-gobbling white elephant left behind at Homebush Bay. The 760-hectare Sydney Olympic Park was a key element in the Games' success: the closely clustered venues allowed spectators to stroll from a day's athletics at the Olympic Stadium (now Stadium Australia) to an evening's basketball, swimming or another sport.
But in the nine months since the Olympic flame was extinguished, there has been little strolling-or any other action-at Homebush Bay. In a city that was already well-equipped with more intimate sporting and concert venues, Sydney Olympic Park has struggled to attract events other than the occasional blockbuster, like the upcoming rugby Test between Australia and the British Lions. State Treasurer Michael Egan, already grappling with a $A1.4 billion bill for staging the Olympics and Paralympics, has allocated almost $A50 million to the newly formed Sydney Olympic Park Authority. Its job, he says, will be to ensure that the site "becomes a self-financing proposition and Sydney's first choice for entertainment, sport and leisure," drawing some 40,000 people a day.
Some of that money has already been spent reconfiguring the stadium into a cosier venue for football and cricket, and constructing a wall on which the names of the 60,000 Olympic and Paralympic volunteers will be inscribed (a worthy idea, but it's hard to see that one causing traffic snarls around the site). The authority's blueprint might eventually include shops, restaurants, apartment blocks or a theme park; it is less likely to adopt the suggestion of University of N.S.W. landscape architecture professor James Weirick, who says part of the site, including Stadium Australia, should have a close encounter with a wrecking ball. Surely no way to treat Olympic history.
Breaking Up Isn't That Hard to Do
In fiji these days, everyone's favorite word is unity. In the run-up to the August elections-called in March after a judge ruled the military-installed government illegal -indigenous political parties are being urged to form a vote-sharing alliance. Individually, ethnic nationalists fear, none will outpoll the multiracial Labour party of exPrime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, who was ousted last May in a coup attempt.
Unity is proving easier said than achieved. Since the election was announced, all five major parties have split. Fiji's 360,000 voters are now being courted by 25 parties (up from 20 in 1999), each with its own plan for ethnic and national harmony. Backed by some prominent coup sympathizers, caretaker P.M. Laisenia Qarase last month launched the People's United Party as "an alternative to factionalism." So far, however, only two small parties have consented to enter the P.U.P. tent. Even Labour has succumbed to split syndrome. Complaining that Chaudhry's blunt style "divides rather than builds consensus," former deputy P.M. tupeni baba, an ethnic Fijian, two weeks ago formed his own chip off the bloc. Its name? The New Labour Unity Party.
Rose Bay by any other name
On the map Signposts at New South Wales landmarks like Sydney Harbour and the Blue Mountains may have to be enlarged to accommodate a dual Aboriginal and European naming policy announced by the state government last week. Under the voluntary system, communities and councils can nominate local geographic features and cultural sites like rivers, beaches and islands-but not suburbs, streets or manmade structures like bridges-for indigenous titles. Aboriginal groups have welcomed the proposal. Others are less enthused: "I think sometimes we go too far," says Australian Democrats founder Don Chipp. There's no word yet on the selection process for sites with several Aboriginal place names or spellings (Kookaroo, Woccanmagulli and Yah-loong are all tribal titles for Farm Cove). Sydney taxi drivers might resent the extra study time needed to grasp destinations like Warrane (Circular Quay) or Kaiymay (Manly). But with Aboriginal names already in use from Cronulla to Curl Curl, pronunciation should be simple for anyone who can say Woolloomooloo.