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Lessons learnt from Sydney

Organizers in Sydney wanted to avoid a repeat of the transport chaos that dogged Atlanta in 1996
Organizers in Sydney wanted to avoid a repeat of the transport chaos that dogged Atlanta in 1996  

By CNN's Hugh Williams

(CNN) -- After winning the Games in 1993, Sydney's' first Olympic hurdle was overcoming public distrust in the wake of the International Olympic Committees' bribery scandal.

Australian organizing officials dodged that bullet by claiming that their hands were clean.

But they created a scandal of their own, by holding tickets to the best events for deep pocketed Olympic "friends", and visitors from overseas -- something the sporting fans of Australia did not appreciate.

"Anyone hosting an Olympic Games has got to be ready to explain to their people that: this is an International event, we happen to be hosting it, we're going to do very well at it if we get it right, but that it's something for more than our own national population, and that's got to be understood," says New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.


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But once the Olympic torch approached, and the athletes arrived, some of the focus during the Games was performance enhancing drugs.

Some athletes were stripped of their medals or sent home after strict new testing methods were implemented.

But even the doping cases did not detract from Sydney's Olympic success.

The years of planning and lessons learned from Atlanta's' experience fours years before paid off.

Transportation woes, such as those in Atlanta, were overcome in Sydney with a new rail link directly into the Olympic Park, and an Athletes Village built practically next door to most of the sporting venues.

This made sure everyone made it to the events on time.


Security is always a primary concern and no stone was left unturned to keep unwelcome guests from causing trouble.

Organizers were mindful of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, and used a massive security presence to keep Sydney 'incident free' during the Games.

But many say it was simply the people who made the Games successful, and without the help of tens of thousands of trained volunteers, things could have been a lot worse.

"I think the fundamental message is: your people, their character, the kind of society you are, will be on display," says Carr.

"The Olympics are a platform, and with all your characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, the Olympics will enable you to present yourself to the world. And it's a very competitive world!"

So even though the Games cost a fortune to host, in Sydney's case earning a "Best Ever Games" rating from the IOC made it all worthwhile.

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