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Olympics in the bag ... now the hard work begins

Sydney
Sydney's spectacular success with the 2000 Games will be hard to beat  


By CNN's Andrew Demaria

(CNN) -- A few months ago, outgoing IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch wrote a letter to the Athens Olympic organizers, reminding them of their inherited duty to provide for the world the 'best Games ever'.

Though in his opening address to IOC members in Moscow Thursday, Samaranch said he was confident that both Athens and Salt Lake City (Winter Games hosts in 2002) were on their way to achieving that goal -- the letter served as a stark reminder to the host of the 2008 Games.

Winning the right to host the Games, as difficult and important as it may be, is merely the beginning of a long organizational nightmare -- something Beijing is just beginning to find out.

As the Olympic show gets bigger and brighter each outing, the pressure to perform above expectations increases.

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And this is not the athletes we are talking about. It is about the host city's ability to stage a successful Olympics.

Olympic ideals

Certainly, the efforts of Sydney last year where a glorious result for the Olympic movement; struggling to put on a brave face in the wake of corruption allegations and the ongoing dogma of drugs in sport.

The Sydney Games came to symbolize many of the ideals which the Olympics were founded on.

Spirit, celebration and humanity were reinjected into the Games, and the IOC certainly needed the fix.

Atlanta in 1996 is remembered by most for its over-the-top commercialism, traffic problems and Centenntial bombing attack.

The endeavors of athletes, as impressive as some were, took a back seat.

Still in the U.S., next year's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics are already blighted over allegations of bribery and corruption involving both the bid committee and IOC delegates.

Step back a bit in time, and it is rare in modern history for an Olympics to remain unscarred by events off the track.

The U.S. led boycott of Moscow in 1980, the retaliation by the USSR in 1984, and the numerous doping cases that followed.

Hard act to follow

LA Games
The 1984 Los Angeles Games were hit by a Soviet-led boycott  

Sydney, had its share of drugs cases, particularly in weightlifting, but even that failed to overshadow the success of the Games.

Its preparation was not without concern, with organizational problems and internal political infighting dominating the local Australian media.

That too was all but forgotten once the Olympic Flame was lit high above Stadium Australia to open the Games.

The Olympic movement re-found its feet, and now has passed on the responsibility of recreating Sydney's success to a new host.

The task is enormous. Already Athens has been seen as floundering, with comments occasionally suggesting that the IOC will strip the Greek city of the Games and return them to Sydney.

Unlikely as that is, it shows that winning the right to host the Games is not the final victory.

That judgment will take place when the Games are over, the athletes are gone and only memories remain.






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• Beijing 2008
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