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20 things about the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games

Almost one third of the world's population lives in commonwealth countries.

1. The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will be held from 15-26 March 2006.

2. Melbourne will host the XVIII Commonwealth Games and is the fourth Australian city to host the Games following Sydney (1938), Perth (1962) and Brisbane (1982).

3. The Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games had 3184 athletes competing in 15 sports. It is anticipated that 4500 athletes will compete in Melbourne in 2006 in 16 sports and 24 disciplines.

4. Eleven nations, including Australia, participated in the first British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930. There are 71 nations in the Commonwealth, representing over a third of the world’s population and all are expected to compete in Melbourne in 2006.

5. Six sports featured in the first Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada in 1930 – Track & Field, Bowls, Boxing, Rowing, Swimming/Diving and Wrestling. Melbourne will present 12 individual and four team sports involving 24 disciplines.

6. Athletics, Boxing and Swimming are the only sports to have been on the program at every Games – they will continue their unbroken participation in Melbourne.

7. Following the introduction of team sports in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, each Games
must now have a minimum of two and a maximum of four team sports. In 2006 team sports included on the program are Basketball, Hockey, Rugby 7s and Netball.

8. Melbourne will introduce Basketball to the sports program for the first time at the Commonwealth Games. After making their debut in Manchester, Table Tennis, Mountain Bike and Triathlon will return.

9. Fourteen of the 16 sports at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will be staged at venues within a three-kilometre radius of the CBD.

10. A new 50m competition pool is being constructed at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, ensuring that Melbourne has one of the best aquatic facilities in the world.

11. The Commonwealth Games Village in Parkville will become home - away - from - home for 6000 athletes and officials.

12. The Games Village is traditionally open for a total of 25 days, starting 10 days before the Opening Ceremony to allow athletes the necessary time to acclimatise and adjust to their surrounds before they compete. The Games Village closes three days after the Closing Ceremony to allow enough time for each team’s departure.

13. A free 12-day cultural and free entertainment program will fill Melbourne’s CBD, parks and gardens with activity during the Games. For the first time the entire MCG/Melbourne Park precinct will join with the city, Birrarung Marr and the Yarra to transform Melbourne.

14. Visitors to the Games are unlikely to go hungry – or thirsty. Victoria has around 3500 restaurants with 2500 of them in metropolitan Melbourne and 400 in the CBD. There are more than 320 wineries, 100 within one hour of the city. Visitors also have a place to stay; Melbourne has 25,000 hotel beds within 5km of the city.

15. Melbourne’s transport system is well developed, diverse and fully integrated with the fourth largest tramway system in the world. It stretches along 244km of track and has 450 trams efficient in delivering spectators to major events.

16. Victoria has a population of approximately 4.7 million people speaking 170 languages; not surprising when you consider that one in four Victorians was born overseas.

17. The MCG will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and Track & Field in 2006. The ‘G’ has a long history of hosting Track & Field competition; most famously the 1956 Olympic Games. The MCG was also the home of the first
amateur Athletics meeting in Australia in September 1864 and the first ever Australasian Athletics Championship in 1893.

18. The Queen’s Baton Relay carries the Queen’s message to the athletes competing in the Games which is traditionally read at the Opening Ceremony. The Queen’s Baton will travel 16,936km from Buckingham Palace through the Commonwealth, before travelling around Australia on its journey to the MCG.

19. Volunteers will be a key contributor to the success of the Games. Up to 15,000 volunteers will be required to assist with running the Games. They will be joined by 1200 technical officials, 5000 contractors and over 500 full - time staff.

20. The main dining hall at the Games Village will seat 1800 athletes at any one time and cater for 20,000 meals per day.

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Fireworks at the MCG at the closing of Melbourne 2006.
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