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September 29, 2000
Big bang for Games goodbyeThe Rediff Team
Two low-flying Air Force F-111 fighter bombers will create the biggest bang in Olympics history to mark the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games on Sunday.
As the Olympic cauldron is extinguished to mark the end of the Games, the jets will fly over, then dump and burn fuel along the river to the Harbour, creating the illusion that the Olympic flame was picked up and carried out onto the water.
This will be followed by a multi-million dollar fireworks display, taking place simultaneously in 24 hotspots around the harbour. One million people are expected to watch it, from the shore.
''We are planning closure on a massive scale,'' said Ignatius Jones, artistic director. ''Olympic closing ceremonies are usually regarded as the poor relation of opening ceremonies. We didn't want that sad moment where people say is that all there is?"
The ceremony will begin at 8pm with the fireworks kicking off two hours later. The Harbour Bridge will be the centrepiece, with a pyrotechnic waterfall in the colours of the Olympic rings.
The fireworks display will be the work of five companies from the five continents - intended as a tribute to the symbolic Olympic rings. Although the fireworks originally had the same budget as this year's Millennium celebrations, the quantity has been unexpectedly doubled. The pyrotechnics companies from the United States, Japan, Spain and South Africa, as well as Australia, have provided free the extra fireworks requested by Sydney.
Concerts and street celebrations featuring Aussie pop group Savage Garden will follow. Given that the next day is the Labour Day holiday in Australia, the dancing is expected to last all night.
In the stadium itself, Ric Birch will organise the closing ceremony featuring the likes of Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Amorosi, Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi and Nikki Webster.
On Thursday, 23 priestesses of Olympia, selected from throughout Greece, made a brief appearance in Sydney.
The priestesses were part of the flame-lighting ceremony in the Temple of Hera, in Olympia, in May this year which was the prelude to the torch relay to Sydney. This, however, is the first time they are appearing outside Greece, since the Modern Olympics began in 1896.
Chief priestess Thalia Prokopiou, said she found Sydney "a very nice city and the people are too warm and kind. I am very impressed.''
It was Prokopiou, a drama school graduate from the Greek National Theatre, who lit the Olympic flame in May from the rays of the sun, using a steel mirror.
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