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|August 21, 2000||
Officials clash over transport delaysBrian Williams in Sydney
Sydney Games organisers and Olympic officials clashed on Sunday over whether events should be delayed if transport problems stopped spectators reaching their seats on time.
Sydney Games chief Michael Knight told the Sydney-based Sunday Telegraph some events could be pushed back if the city's creaking railway system broke down.
Knight said thousands of Olympic buses would be used if there was rail disruption but some events might still be delayed until all the ticket-holders arrived.
He said a number of international sporting federations had been consulted and had approved the contingency plans.
But International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Kevan Gosper insisted that broken down trains would not justify such delays.
Gosper said that the arrival of President Clinton's motorcade at the 1996 Atlanta Games had been a case of special circumstances where events should be made to wait.
But Gosper said it would be unfair to athletes to change starting times without an exceptional reason as it would interfere with their preparations and warm-up.
"It's why we say in all the guiding material to spectators to leave plenty of time to get to the venue so you won't miss out," he added.
New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, has a notoriously unreliable rail system with more than 140 derailments already this year, an average of around five a week.
Olympic organisers fear a derailment during the Games, which take place from September 15 to October 1, when passenger loads are likely to be three times the normal volume, could create chaos.
But a spokesman for Knight later said the two sides were arguing over a worst case scenario that was unlikely to materialise.
"They are not going to try and stop events for a few trains running late," the spokesman told reporters.
"But if there is a major transport problem across the whole network and three-quarters of the stadium wasn't there that would be exceptional circumstances.
"But we don't think it will happen."
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