It's a good thing Sydney, Australia, has four years to prepare for the Summer Olympics in 2000. In the past seven months two men have resigned as chairman of the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG)—a third, Michael Knight, 44, took over last month—and two members of the committee have quit for personal reasons. In addition four others have been replaced for political reasons. When the Australian Federal Labor government was defeated in national elections in March, the incoming Liberals replaced the two Federal Labor members of SOCOG with their own nominees. Similarly, when the New South Wales State Liberal government was defeated in state elections in March 1995, the incoming Socialist Labor party (of which Knight is a member) replaced the two State Liberal members with their nominees.
Knight is government minister (a member of the government responsible for the operation of a certain area such as education or health) of New South Wales, the state overseeing the 2000 Games. His appointment is an indication that organizers are serious about getting the government involved in the day-to-day operations of the Games. SOCOG representatives who were at the 1996 Games became convinced that Atlanta's reliance on private enterprise was a major reason for the transportation snafus, security lapses and other blunders that plagued those Olympics.
But government means politics, and politics means bickering, backbiting, hidden agendas and an ever-changing cast of characters. In fact, with another state election in New South Wales set for March 1999, Knight himself could be ousted at the 11th hour.
SOCOG representatives were pretty smug about the logistical nightmares experienced by their counterparts at the Atlanta Games. But right now Sydney doesn't exactly have its own Olympic house in order, either.