[Hpn] Sydney Olympics protest web sites FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 10 Sep 2000 02:03:42 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Reuters - Thursday September 7 8:36 PM ET


     By Paul Holmes

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Want an alternative view of the Sydney Olympics?

Look no further than the Worldwide Web, where everyone from subversives to
satirists are poking criticism and fun at the biggest sporting show on

Fired by a sense that Australia and the Games are not all sugar-coated
harmony and joy -- or by a sheer spirit of mischief -- the Internet sites
offer a different perspective.

Take http://www.silly2000.com , a site linked to the satirical Australian
newspaper The Chaser.

A spoof on the official Games site http://www.olympics.com , its home page
proclaimed ``23 days until the end of the Olympics'' on Friday. The site
gave this advice to Sydneysiders on how to deal with the Olympic influx of
foreign visitors.

``Helping confused tourists to find their way around our beautiful city
helps improve our international image and can also be very rewarding,'' it

``However, leading them astray is much more fun.''

The Games, which open next Friday, will showcase Australia and Sydney to a
global television audience of billions.

``The time for any political pointscoring on matters relating to the Games
is over,'' Prime Minister John Howard said this week.

``It is important that all Australians work together to demonstrate to the
world what a marvelous, cohesive, open, friendly and welcoming country
Australia really is.''

Those that disagree include aboriginal groups, environmentalists, social
pressure movements and anarchists, all of which are using the Web to push
protest platforms linked directly or indirectly to the 17-day Olympics.

Many can be found via the Sydney Alternative Media Centre (SAMC), whose
site at http://www.samcenter.org describes itself as ``an independent
information source for the international media during the Olympics.''

News stories it carries include one on a 3,000-km (1,800-mile) trek across
Australia with an alternative to the Olympic torch by an aborigine elder in
support of land rights for the country's indigenous peoples.

Others are about beefed-up security laws passed to protect the Olympics and
their effect on civil liberties, and the impact of the Games on Sydney's

SAMC says the thousands of journalists in Sydney to cover the Olympics
risked having Australian wool pulled over their eyes if they rely solely on
official sources and Games organizers SOCOG for their picture of life Down

``I'm not anti-Olympics per se,'' SAMC spokeswoman Kyla Slaven told The
Australian newspaper this week.

``I would say the Olympics no longer reflect the ideals they're supposed
to. The closedness of SOCOG and their refusal, and Australia's generally,
to hear negative things about them isn't good,'' Slaven said.

Other alternative sites include http://www.realgames.org , complete with a
banner linking readers to a site promising ``pre-Olympic fun'' at street
protests planned by anti-globalization activists out to disrupt next week's
World Economic Forum in Melbourne.

The anti-Olympics alliance at http://www.cat.org.au/aoa/ carries details of
Games-related protests about homelessness, aboriginal rights and in support
of the legalization of soft drugs.

And, if you're really confused about which group is against what at the
Games, PISSOFF says it will set you right.

The group, ``People Ingeniously Subverting the Sydney Olympic Farce,'' says
its site at http://www.cat.org.au/pissoff/ will enlighten ``individuals who
are pissed off with the Olympics but are not sure who is campaigning about
what or where to start.''


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