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Samaranch Says Sydney May Top Barcelona as Host

September 05, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

Appearing tired and worn out, Juan Antonio Samaranch completed an almost 30-hour trip to Sydney, Australia on Monday for what will be his last Olympics as president of the International Olympic Committee.

The 80-year-old Spaniard flew from Europe via Singapore. He will attend his first function Wednesday at Olympic Park and then participate in IOC executive board meetings and the 111th IOC session.

Samaranch was ushered through Sydney International Airport by Olympics Minister Michael Knight, head of the Sydney organizing committee, IOC vice president Kevan Gosper and IOC director general Francois Carrard.

Samaranch spoke to reporters long enough to answer three questions, saying he was happy to be back in Sydney and was looking forward to the Games. He has spent 20 years as head of the IOC.

Asked of any last-minute concerns, Samaranch said only inclement weather could spoil the Games, which begin Sept. 15.

"There can be rain, there can be poor weather but Mr. Knight told me the forecast is good," he said. "We know very well that our Australian friends worked very hard over seven years, and I hope they'll get the prize they deserve."

He rates the 1992 Barcelona Games as the best Olympics but has said Sydney has the potential to be even better.

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An Aboriginal protest organizer said he plans to set up a camp in a park next to the Olympic site in Homebush, even if police refuse to give him permission.

Trevor Close said he plans to occupy Bicentennial Park on Sept. 13 with about 50 Aborigines, and would welcome being arrested to attract attention to indigenous issues.

Police said that protests at Olympic Park were unlikely to be approved.

Indigenous activists want to highlight the plight of Australia's most disadvantaged minority. The activists were granted permission to hold protests near the airport after weeks of negotiations with police.

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Olympic athletes were urged to visit Nike factories in Indonesia that activists contend exploit workers.

Activists renewed a campaign against the international sportswear giant, releasing a report that documents claims of intimidation and harassment of union workers and women in companies contracted to make Nike shoes in Indonesia.

Tim Connor, the author of the "NikeWatch" report, said Nike was failing to protect workers rights in its contract factories in Indonesia.

In response to Connor's report, Nike said it had raised age requirements and wages for workers in Indonesia, improved factory conditions and published factory monitoring reports as part of reforms to improve conditions for its Asian workers.

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Nigeria arrived in Australia to defend its Olympic soccer title without its star striker.

Nwankwo Kanu, who set up two goals in Nigeria's 3-2 upset of Argentina in the gold medal game at Atlanta in 1996, is involved in a dispute between his English Premier League club Arsenal and Nigerian authorities.

Arsenal wanted Kanu to skip the under-23 Olympic tournament. Nigerian soccer officials are confident Kanu would be released for the Sydney Games.

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A car plowed into members of the German Olympic cycling team at Sydney, knocking four riders off their bicycles, police said.

One German cyclist suffered minor injuries in the crash, but declined medical treatment at the scene, police spokeswoman Janine Carter said.

The injured cyclist, whose identity was not released, was being taken back to the team's headquarters for treatment.

Miscellany

Seattle SuperSonic guard Vernon Maxwell is accused of assaulting a woman in her Charlotte home, according to a warrant seeking his arrest.

Heidi Hayden, 31, told police she was punched and kicked several times in her home just after midnight Saturday. Hayden sustained bruises and scratches and refused treatment, a police report says.

A captain with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office confirmed that a warrant has been issued for Maxwell's arrest but would not elaborate on what happened or the search for him. Attempts to contact Hayden and Maxwell were unsuccessful Monday.

Former NHL general manager Cliff Fletcher has signed a five-year contract to help incoming part-owner Wayne Gretzky run the Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky confirmed to the Arizona Republic that Fletcher has been hired and was to arrive in Phoenix today. . . . The Montreal Canadiens re-signed defenseman Sheldon Souray to a two-year contract.

Tony Schumacher raced to his first victory in the U.S. Nationals by beating Gary Clapshaw in the final to regain the lead in the NHRA top-fuel standings at Clermont, Ind.

Schumacher, who won when Clapshaw fouled at the start, moved 69 points ahead of first-round loser Gary Scelzi. Schumacher has four victories this year and five in his career.

Jim Epler, Jeg Coughlin, Antron Brown and Bob Panella also raced to their first U.S. Nationals victories in the $2.6-million competition at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Boxing

Gunmen shot up the home of Julio Cesar Chavez in his violence-plagued home state of Sinaloa, Mexico's national TV networks reported.

Authorities would not say if Chavez was home at the time of the attack, but said no one had filed a complaint with police.

Neighbors told a Televisa TV reporter there had been a party Sunday night at the residence that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

Mauricio Martinez of Panama stopped Nicaragua's Lester Fuentes in the fifth round to claim the vacant World Boxing Organization's bantamweight title at Manchester, England.

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