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|September 2, 2000||
Oldest Olympian opens Games villageScott McDonald in Sydney
"I have great pleasure in opening the Athletes' Village for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. May all the athletes live in harmony and have all their wishes fulfilled," said Edie Payne.
Payne, who turns 94 during the September 15 to October 1 Games, also became Australia's first women's Olympic track and field competitor when she competed in the 100 and 800 metres races in Amsterdam, the first Games in which women were allowed to compete in track and field events.
Payne, who broke down in tears after she cut the opening ribbon, joked with reporters about how much the Olympics had changed since she travelled for six weeks by boat to Holland, and then stayed 60 km (37 miles) from the competition site.
"It was so far away that when we arrived at the training track it was time to go home again. Things are so different now," she said.
The Sydney Athletes Village is several minutes walk from the venues for 15 sports, and within 40 minutes travel time for all 28 sports.
Olympic organisers said athletes from Finland were the first to move into the village, followed by Cubans, and that by the end of Saturday nearly 3,000 competitors would have moved in.
"I think the living conditions for the athletes are first class," said Britain's Olympic chef de mission Simon Clegg.
In addition to the athletes, about 5,000 officials from 199 countries will also move into the village, the first in Summer Games history with the capacity to accommodate every competitor in one location, although competitors in sports such as sailing are expected to stay elsewhere.
Organisers said the village would be the fifth biggest city in New South Wales once it filled up.
International Olympic Committee official Pere Miro said: "From the IOC point of view, this Athletes' Village is magnificent."
Mail Sports Editor
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