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September 12, 2000
Opening ceremony under threatPaul Tait
Demonstrators linked with violent protests at an international economic forum in Melbourne have targeted Friday's Sydney Games opening ceremony, an Olympic security source said on Wednesday.
"We're taking it fairly seriously," the source told Reuters.
Olympic security chiefs became aware of the threat only hours after New South Wales police chief Peter Ryan warned that Sydney Games organisers would not tolerate violent protests like those at a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting this week in Melbourne.
"We will not tolerate this city being closed down. We will not tolerate any disruption to the Olympic Games," Ryan told Channel Nine television.
The security source said Games organisers became concerned about the potential threat to Sydney when they learned one of the Melbourne protest leaders had been enlisting support for a demonstration against the Games opening ceremony on Friday.
Protest plans were posted on a website belonging to a loose grouping of activists known as The Anti-Olympics Alliance.
The website --- www.cat.org.au/aoa/sept15.htlml -- carries links to the Melbourne protests, which were run by a grouping of anti-globalisation demonstrators, green activists and unionists known as S11.
The website says the protests are being organised in conjunction with disadvantaged Aborigines, who are also planning peaceful demonstrations to highlight their plight.
"This demonstration is a non-violent action being organised in solidarity and consultation with indigenous groups who are already organising on this day," the website says.
It says demonstrators should gather at North Strathfield railway station near the main Games site before catching shuttle buses to a park outside the main Olympic stadium.
Anti-globalisation protesters have caused havoc at the WEF Asia-Pacific meeting in Melbourne over the past three days, where they have clashed with police in often violent protests.
Ryan said he believed some of the protesters might come to Sydney for the Olympics, which feature many leading corporate heavyweights as sponsors.
"I think it's likely that some of them will come up to Sydney and join in with other protesters against various things that they want to demonstrate about," Ryan said.
"But if they insist in this violent confrontation which we've seen in Melbourne over these last three days, we will act very, very firmly against them," he said.
Many of the business leaders who attended the WEF Asia-Pacific forum, including Microsoft Corp chairman Bill Gates, will travel to Sydney when the meeting -- dubbed the "Business Olympics" -- ends in Melbourne later on Wednesday.
About 30 people, including police, have been hurt and 12 demonstrators arrested in the Melbourne protests over the past three days.
Mounted police have charged demonstrators and helicopters have patrolled overhead in some of the most violent protests seen in Melbourne.
Security for the Melbourne forum was tight from the outset, with officials fearing a re-run of the chaos at last year's World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle.
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