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Tuesday, September 5, 2000
Samaranch, Mandela give Olympic Village thumbs up

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and former South African President Nelson Mandela both heaped praise on Sydney's Olympic Village on Tuesday.

 "I'm very happy," Samaranch said. "I think it's a very first class Olympic Village."

 Samaranch spent almost two hours in the tightly secured residential area of the Village and said he was pleased Mandela, who is on a nine-day visit to Australia, was able to see the athletes' facilities.

 "The facility seems to be very good but I haven't gone around to see everything," Mandela said. "From what I have seen, it's an excellent facility."

 The 247-acre Village will accommodate 10,305 athletes and 5,100 delegation officials during the Olympics, and will form a new residential neighborhood afterwards.

 South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy said Mandela also delivered an inspiring message to South African athletes during his visit.

 "He (said he) would like our athletes to come back to South Africa with more golds than they did in Atlanta," Ramsamy said.

 South Africa won three golds, five medals overall, at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

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