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Saturday, September 2, 2000
Stadium pylon honours Israelis killed in 1972

By ROB GLOSTER -- Associated Press

 SYDNEY, Australia -- Each of the 16 light towers along the plaza outside the Olympic Stadium is dedicated to a previous Olympic site. But pylon No. 14 is significantly different.

 That tower, which commemorates the 1972 Munich Games, includes a plaque honoring the 11 Israeli athletes and officials killed in a terrorist raid at those Olympics.

 It is the first permanent memorial outside of Germany to honor those 11 Israelis, and has been the cause of controversy.

 The memorial consists of a stainless steel panel with the names of the 11 dead and, above it, a blue glass panel with a Hebrew inscription.

 "God of compassion, let them find shelter in the shadow of your wings and may their souls be bound up in the bond of everlasting life," the inscription reads, as translated into English below the panel.

 On Sept. 5, 1972, Palestinian militants invaded the Olympic Village in Munich and took over a dormitory housing Israeli athletes and coaches. Two Israelis were killed in the village. After a 20-hour standoff, nine Israelis died in a rescue attempt by German police at a local airport. Five Palestinians and a German policeman also were killed.

 In May, a Palestinian official objected to the plaque during International Olympic Committee meetings in Brazil.

 Rabie Al Turk, vice president of the Palestine Olympic Committee, said it was unfair to have such a memorial and not to acknowledge Palestinians who have been killed by Israelis.

 But Efram Zinger, secretary general of the Israeli national Olympic committee, replied it was important to remember the only political killings in the history of the modern Olympics.

 "We must remember not only the festivities and the Olympic medal winners, but the victims," Zinger said. "We want to bring the memory of the 11 athletes and officials to the Israeli public, and the younger generation and the Olympic community."

 The plaque was funded by four members of Sydney's Jewish community. A request for a moment of silence during the closing ceremony honoring the Israeli athletes and coaches was turned down by Olympic organizers.

 SIN CITY: The Sydney Olympics are attracting more than just athletes and spectators.

 Prostitutes from around Australia are converging on Sydney, and officials are worried the Olympics also may cause an influx of party drugs such as ecstasy.

 Robbie Swan, of the sex industry lobby The Eros Foundation, said this week that Sydney brothels will be very busy during the games -- leading them to bring prostitutes in from across the country.

 "Sex work is like fruit picking, it's very seasonal. Seasonal workers are often attracted to different events in different cities," Swan said. "You'll find a lot of sex workers will go to see the Olympics, and they'll sponsor it with a bit of work as well."

 But local brothels said the extra business from Olympic visitors may be offset by a decrease in regular local clients who are leaving town because of the Olympic crowds.

 A possible increase in the use of ecstasy in Sydney could be the result of city officials trying to create a "party image" for the host town, warned Paul Dillon of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center.

 Dillon said there was an increase in the use of party drugs in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, and he expects a similar rise in Sydney.

 "In the leadup to the games, we've been really pushing the whole notion of Sydney as being a party city, yet we've done nothing to discuss responsible alcohol use, or the issues around illicit drug use," he said.

 "We are talking about a lot of free, open-air stuff that goes well into the night, people aren't at school, people aren't working," Dillon added. "We've got a whole pile of factors that go together that could spell significant problems."

 Gordian Fulde, the head of emergency services at St. Vincents Hospital in Sydney, said the hospital was prepared to be overwhelmed by the casualties of Olympic partying.

 "It's been marketed as the biggest party on Earth," Fulde said. "Obviously, people are going to drink, obviously it's the perfect environment for people to get a little bit too enthusiastic with their recreational intake of alcohol or whatever."

 OLYMPIC TRADE: The Sydney Olympics are expected to result in Australia's first trade surplus in three years, with TV rights and Olympic travel lifting exports for September.

 Although broadcast rights for the games were contracted several years ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said virtually the entire amount paid for such rights will be counted in next month's exports.

 That will add $564 million to Australia's exports for September.

 In addition, travel to the games and ticket purchases by overseas visitors will add another $261 million to September's export total.

 Westpac Bank is forecasting the trade surplus for September could be as much as $580 million.

 Officials said the games and the Paralympics the following month will help the trade deficit in October, although to a much smaller extent. The ABS estimates the boost to exports in October to be $93 million.

 MEDIA GLARE: Many athletes at the Olympics will complain about being caught in the media glare. But journalists have had their own problem with glare leading up to the Sydney Games.

 Olympic officials said the $14.5 million Main Press Center will undergo minor renovations because no one took into account the glare from the sun.

 The MPC has been designed with glass sections on its roof, taking advantage of as much natural light as possible. But midafternoon glare on computer terminals has made it difficult to work.

 Officials said screens will be installed to block the sun before most of the 5,000 journalists expected to work at the MPC arrive for the games.

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