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September 14, 2000
Olympic flame enters Sydney
A million people turned central Sydney into a giant street party on Thursday to celebrate the arrival of the flame that heralds the opening of the biggest Olympic Games in history.
Casting aside cynicism about corruption, doped athletes and bungled buses, Australians and foreigners thronged the harbour city with its world famous iron bridge and billowing opera house.
Twenty-deep they lined the streets to glimpse the torch. It was paraded around the city before it lights a cauldron in Stadium Australia on Friday evening to mark the start of 17 days of competition among the world's finest athletes.
Singer Olivia Newton-John, who will perform at the opening ceremony, joined Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh and tennis player Pat Rafter to take their turn with the torch which set out from Greece in May.
Fireworks exploded at either end of the Harbour Bridge and the giant Olympic rings adorning its arches were switched on for the first time.
Thousands of police and soldiers provided the tightest security ever seen in Australia's premier city, which will be under the gaze of 3.7 billion television viewers around the world during the Games.
Mayor Frank Sartor told the crowds: "For the next three weeks Sydney is open 24 hours a day. Let us share this extraordinary experience in this extraordinary city."
Testing it for herself will be Chelsea Clinton who arrived in Sydney -- without her parents.
"Both the President and Mrs. Clinton wanted to come to Sydney," explained U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. "But they couldn't come because they're having their own competition -- it's called the presidential election."
Earlier, more mundane matters were on the mind of Games organisers as they rushed to appease angry bus drivers threatening to walk out over working conditions, further undermining an already wobbly transport system.
The Olympic Roads and Transport Authority agreed to pay drivers a bonus and brought in 200 government buses and drivers to reinforce a fleet of 3,500 vehicles.
Organisers also appealed for volunteer navigators to help direct out-of-town drivers after complaints from athletes, media and officials who ended up late or lost.
In the second day of action in the soccer tournaments Japan's men's team stretched their winning streak to 18 matches with a 2-1 victory over South Africa in their opening Group D match in Canberra. Naohiro Takahara scored both Japanese goals.
In the same group Brazil beat Slovakia 3-1 while in Group B Chile thrashed Morocco 4-1 and Spain eased past South Korea 3-0.
In a match of a different kind, U.S. weightlifter Suzanne Leathers, 28, married her coach Don McCauley, 52, at a Sydney ceremony on the eve of the Games.
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