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Tuesday, July 4, 2000
Sydney organizers give evidence to parliament inquiry


SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Australia's Olympics minister said Tuesday he knew that Sydney organizers needed a major financial rescue package well before state officials promised that the games had been paid for.
Michael Knight testified on the opening day of a New South Wales parliament inquiry into the latest government funding boost for the Sydney Olympic Games Organizing Committee.
The Labor government was accused of pushing the $84 million bail out through parliament last month.

State Treasurer Michael Egan announced the extra funding package just days after releasing the state budget and claiming that the cost for taxpayers of hosting the Olympics had been completely covered.
The state government, which is underwriting the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Olympics, said half of the latest boost was to meet the escalating costs of hosting the games and the rest was reserved for unspecified contingencies.
Stephen O'Doherty, the Opposition treasury spokesman, said Egan should be fired for lying to parliament and to the public.
Egan must have known that organizers would need further funding when he announced the state budget -- which already included a grant of almost $60 million to offset rising Olympic costs -- but declined to make it public, O'Doherty said.

Knight said organizers needed the funding boost to ensure the quality of the games, although he wasn't sure if the $42 million contingency fund would be needed.
"We can't guarantee that we won't have 17 days of hailstorms, we can't guarantee there won't be some unfortunate security incident," he said. "We can't guarantee there won't be a sudden contagious illness that causes us to lose half our workforce, those sorts of things, acts of God."
Knight said a series of ticketing blunders, ranging from the failed premium-package plan to a confusing audit that put already sold seats back on the market, cost organizers about $10.8 million in setting up a special center to try to restore public confidence in the sales process.
Olympic Coordination Authority chief David Richmond was among other people due to be called to give evidence to the two-day inquiry, which ends Wednesday.
The inquiry committee is expected to report its findings to parliament before Aug. 29.

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