SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The International Olympic Committee has defended the medal design for next month's Sydney 2000 Games after claims that it highlighted a Roman Colosseum instead of a Greek Parthenon.
Greek Australians described the depiction of the generic stadium, which has been an integral element of the Olympic medal design since 1928, as ignorant and insulting to Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics.
Wojciech Pietranik, who designed the Sydney medals, told The Australian newspaper that he originally wanted to incorporate the Sydney Opera House into the face of the medals but had been bound by IOC rules.
Pietranik, a sculptor and designer with the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, told The Australian that he used the Roman Colosseum as a model for his design interpretation.
But IOC spokesman Franklin Servan-Schreiber said there was no mistake with the design, which was formally approved by the IOC board in October last year.
"We want to set the record straight ... it's exactly the same design approved by the IOC executive board in the tradition of the Olympic Games medals," he said.
"As far as we are concerned, it's not important if it's the Colosseum or the Parthenon. What's important is that it's a stadium," he added.
The design features a stadium in the background, the number of the Olympiad, the city where the games are held, the date, a Grecian urn and Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, holding a floral wreath.
The design for the reverse side of the medal remains at the discretion of the local organizing committee.
In this case it incorporates the Opera House -- Sydney's world-famous architectural icon -- depicted symbolically amid the waves of Sydney Harbor, plus the Olympic flame and the IOC's five-ring logo.
The Australian Mint and the Perth Mint produced 3,100 Olympic medals, including spares, although only 650 gold, 650 silver and 670 bronze medals will be presented to athletes. The remainder will be destroyed after the games according to strict IOC rules.