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Media Kit (2005) - Sports and Venues

High Jump Athlete in ActionSport

In March 2006, the world’s sporting attention will turn to Melbourne, Australia. Over 12 days a record 4,500 athletes from 71 nations representing a third of the world’s population will compete in the XVII Commonwealth Games. Melbourne has a sporting history that stretches back to the 1800s, so that coupled with the rich sporting heritage of the Commonwealth Games – will make for an event that will thrill entire nations.

The first Empire Games (as it was known between 1930 and 1950) were held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930, and featured just six sports: Athletics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rowing, Swimming/Diving, and Wrestling. Seventy six years later, the program has expanded to include 16 sports encompassing 24 disciplines. And for a little added spice in 2006, spectators will find one new sport (Basketball) and one new aquatic event (Synchronised Diving) on the menu in Melbourne.

Melbourne will also feature four sports and 12 events for Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD) which will be fully integrated into the main sports program.

Since it began, the Commonwealth Games has witnessed a litany of world sport’s greatest performances. Who could forget Robert de Castella’s stirring, come-from-behind victory in the marathon at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games? At the 1954 Games in Vancouver, John Landy, the holder of the four-minute mile record, confronted Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four- minute mile, in a race that would later become known as the ‘Miracle Mile’.

The performances of the great British decathlete Daley Thompson, who won gold medals at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games, still stand today. And then there’s Cathy Freeman’s achievements. In 1990, Freeman became the first female Aboriginal Australian to win a gold medal at an international athletics event. In 1994, after winning the 400 metres final at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, she controversially waved both the Australian and Aboriginal flags.

With the Commonwealth brim full of elite sportspeople, the 2006 Games are shaping as an event where history-making performances could become an everyday occurrence, especially at a stadium like the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). As the epicentre of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, the MCG is one of the world’s great sporting arenas.

The heartbeat of the Games will be heard pulsing from the MCG’s stands. Originally built in 1853, it was home to the first ever cricket Test match between Australia and England and the first game of Australian Rules football. The MCG was also the centrepiece of the 1956 Olympic Games. Both the Opening Ceremony and Athletics were staged there.

In more recent times the MCG was one of the main soccer venues for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Lovers of sport history will also find the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum within its walls. Currently undergoing a $430 million dollar redevelopment, it will look grander than ever come 2006. Just a short stroll from the centre of Melbourne, it’s also close to other venues hosting Commonwealth Games events.

In the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park, and the Telstra Dome, Melbourne has three of the world’s eight sports venues with retractable roofs. All of these facilities are within three kilometres of the city centre and can be reached easily on foot or by public transport. With a variety of sports on show at these venues throughout the Games, spectators and media will be able to move easily and quickly between events.

The quality of these world class venues and the level of planning development will provide all athletes with the opportunity to perform at their highest level.

When the Games are officially declared open on 15 March 2006, years of preparation will come down to a few moments for many athletes. With elite sportsmen and women competing in sports from Athletics and Weightlifting to Lawn Bowls and Boxing, spectators will have the chance to watch as records are broken and new heroes are unearthed. One of the world’s great sporting theatres will have opened its doors to the public.

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To get a feel for the show Melbourne will be putting on, here’s a guide to the sporting action spectators will catch during the Games.


Incorporating Diving, Swimming, and Synchronised Swimming, the Aquatics program will be one of the most keenly contested events of the Games.

For further information, visit the Diving, Swimming, and Synchronised Swimming sports pages.


From the opening and closing laps of the marathon to the explosive, heart-stopping action of the 100 metres sprint, the Athletics competition is expected to be a Games highlight. The track and field competition will be held over seven days, with 53 gold medals (including six for EAD athletes) being contested.

For further information, visit the Athletics sports page.


The Badminton competition will be one of the largest events on the International Badminton Federation (IBF) calendar. To cater for the high volume of matches required to stage the competition, a purpose-built temporary venue will be constructed within the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Badminton will be contested on all 11 days of the competition schedule and includes singles, doubles and a team event. A total of six gold medals will be contested.

For further information, visit the Badminton sports page.


Believe it or not, Melbourne is the first city to host a Commonwealth Games Basketball competition. And it’s not just city dwellers who’ll get to experience it.
The preliminary rounds of Basketball will be held at the regional centres of Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Traralgon. As a high participation sport in Commonwealth countries, matches are expected to be well-attended and tightly fought.

For further information, visit the Basketball sports page.


Boxing fans can watch fights in 11 weight categories, from light flyweight to super heavyweight. The competition will be held in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre – Melbourne’s own Madison Square Garden for the Games.

For further information, visit the Boxing sports page.


At Melbourne 2006, the Cycling program includes Track, Road and Mountain Biking events, with several events to be held along Melbourne’s leafy boulevards – a free spectacle for fans. Mountain Bike races will take place at the new State Mountain Bike Course at Lysterfield Park. Track will be held at Melbourne Park Velodrome.

For further information, visit the TrackRoad and Mountain Bike sports pages.


Events will be held in both artistic and rhythmic disciplines for individuals and teams. Rod Laver Arena – where the 2005 Artistic Gymnastic World Championships will provide a fantastic warm-up to the Games.

For further information, visit the artistic and rhythmic gymnastics sports page.


Anticipated to be one of the most keenly fought competitions at the Games. Ten nations will play off in both the men’s and women’s categories over the 11 days of competition, which will take place at Melbourne’s world class State Netball Hockey Centre located just five minutes from the Games Village.

For further information, visit the Hockey sports page.

Lawn Bowls:

Contested in singles, pairs and triples, the Lawn Bowls medals will be decided at the newly constructed State Lawn Bowls Centre in Thornbury, a state-of-the-art facility with four international greens just 8kms from the city centre.

For further information, visit the Lawn Bowls sports page.


Of the 52 Commonwealth nations affiliated with the International Federation of Netball Associations (INF), the top 12 will be selected to compete in Melbourne. Due to the sport’s huge fan base in Australia, preliminary games will be held at the State Netball Hockey Centre and the finals will be played at Melbourne Park.

For further information, visit the Netball sports page.

Rugby 7s:

Following the internationally recognised format for Rugby 7s (teams playing two seven-minute halves), expect old rivals Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England to provide some of the toughest competition of any of the sports on show in Melbourne. And don’t forget those champion sides from countries like Fiji and Samoa who play with skill, flair and passion. Competition will be held at Telstra Dome, one of the main venues for the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

For further information, visit the Rugby 7s sports page.


With four disciplines (clay target, full bore rifle, pistol, small bore/air rifle) spread over three high quality, international-standard venues, Melbourne is expecting to attract a record number of competitors.

For further information, visit the Shooting sports page.


Will be held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, the home of Squash in Victoria. Athletes from the Commonwealth feature prominently in World Squash Federation competitions, so the standard will be world-class. There will be singles and doubles competitions.

For further information, visit the Squash sports page.

Table Tennis:

As a popular sport throughout the Commonwealth, the gold medals will be hotly contested in Melbourne. Expect England and Malaysia to continue their traditional rivalry.

For further information, visit the Table Tennis sports page.


Making its full medal debut at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Triathlon will take place on the first Saturday of competition with separate women’s and men’s events. Head to the scenic St Kilda foreshore for the action.

For further information, visit the Triathlon sports page.


Expected to feature athletes from over 35 different nations, the competition will come not only from traditional weightlifting nations but also from the Oceania Region who are an upcoming force in the Commonwealth. The venue is the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

For further information, visit the Weightlifting sports page.

Events for Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD)

After the successful inclusion of EAD events at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne 2006 will feature an expanded program showcasing 12 events across four sports. This reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to equal opportunity for all athletes.


Both 50 metre and 100 metre freestyle events for male and female competitors.


For the men, there’s Men’s T12 (a 100 metre event for the visually impaired), T46, (a 200 metre event for amputees) and discus (seated). Female competitors will compete in T37 (100m for cerebral palsy) and T54 (800 metre wheelchair) track events, while the field event will be shot put (seated).

Table Tennis:

A wheelchair event for female competitors only.


An open bench press competition for male competitors only. The Games Village will be built to the requirements of EAD athletes and all EAD events have been fully integrated into the overall Games schedule.

For further information, visit the EAD Events page.

Visit the Competition Schedule for a detailed listing of all the events, competition dates, venues and session times for the Games.

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Ariel View of Melbourne VenuesWith such a rich sporting heritage, it’s no surprise that Melbourne has a long list of world class sporting facilities. As a city used to hosting World Cup Rugby, Grand Slam tennis, Formula One, International Cricket, top flight Golf tournaments, Soccer and Cycling, the action at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will take place at some of the world’s finest venues.

The Places To Be

So let’s start at the top. The Melbourne Cricket Ground or MCG. As the home of sport in Australia it is internationally recognised as one of the world’s greatest sporting stages and is where much of the drama in Melbourne will unfold.

Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will take place at the ‘G’ as it’s affectionately known by Melburnians. It will host the track and field events and the start and finish of the marathon. It’s only a 10 minute walk from Melbourne’s city centre. The roar from tens of thousands of fans, when they’re together at the ‘G’, has to be heard to be believed.

It is one of the great sensations world sport has to offer. But the MCG is only one of many Games venues. Most are located just a short walk from the city centre, while others are in regional Victoria, in keeping with the aim of making the Games truly inclusive.

Docklands Precinct:

The Yarra River, cosmopolitan cafes and the water craft port of the Docklands will provide a diverse backdrop to the Athletics – Walks events and part of the Marathon.

Melbourne Exhibition Centre:

Located on the south bank of the Yarra River beside Crown Casino, this will be the home of the Main Press Centre. This 30,000 square metre space will also host Badminton, Boxing and Weightlifting.

Melbourne Park:

One of the most versatile venues available, it is the location for both the Basketball and Netball finals and the Track Cycling. With a 250 metre Siberian pine cycling track, expect some closely fought racing here.

Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre:

This modern, international standard sporting venue is the largest integrated sports complex of its type in Australia. The centre, used by both community and elite athletes alike, and set to include a new 50-metre outdoor competition pool, is where you’ll find the Aquatics program. It’s adjacent to the site of the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park. The centre will also feature Table Tennis and Squash.

Melbourne Gun Club:

Set in picturesque semi-rural Lilydale, in the foothills of the Yarra Valley Wine region, about 45 minutes from inner Melbourne, this venue will host Clay Target Shooting.

Melbourne International Shooting Club:

Set in bayside Port Melbourne, just 15 minutes from the city centre, this is the venue for Small Bore and Pistol Shooting events.

Regional Venues:

The Preliminary Basketball Competition will be played at a number of regional centres all within two hours of Melbourne. Centres include the historic Goldfields towns of Bendigo and Ballarat, the stunning City of Geelong on Corio Bay and Traralgon, located in the heart of Gippsland.

Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne Park):

This stadium is home to the Australian Open tennis. With a retractable roof it will be the Gymnastics venue – just a 10 minute walk from the city centre.

Royal Botanic Gardens:

These beautiful gardens, just minutes from Melbourne’s city centre, are the venue for Cycling – Road Race.

State Netball Hockey Centre:

Close to the Commonwealth Games Village, this new complex has two new synthetic, water-based pitches for hockey and a five-court indoor stadium for the netball preliminaries.

State Lawn Bowls Centre:
This new facility comprises four outdoor international standard greens. Located 30 minutes from the city centre, it is the hub of Lawn Bowls in Victoria.

State Mountain Bike Course (Lysterfield Park):

Located at the foothills of the spectacular Dandenong Ranges, this world-class mountain bike course, in Melbourne’s south-east, will be one of the tangible legacies from hosting the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The venue will include almost 20 kilometres of trails, including a six kilometre elite competition course.

St Kilda Foreshore:

St Kilda will be the central point for both the men’s and women’s Triathlon events. Many local, state and national events already utilise this highly picturesque area. The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will provide a challenging yet spectator-friendly Triathlon course.

Telstra Dome:

With the Rugby 7s on show, you can expect crowds to make some serious noise. Completed in 2000 and covered by a 160m x 100m retractable roof, Telstra Dome hosted games of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, regularly hosts AFL matches and was the site of the first indoor one-day international cricket match.

The streets of Melbourne:

Starting and finishing at the MCG, the marathon course will wind its way around the streets of Melbourne. The course will highlight the tourist attractions of the city to millions of people around the world.

Wellsford Rifle Range:

Set in the historic regional town of Bendigo, the Full Bore Shooting range is about two hours’ drive from Melbourne. This facility has been substantially upgraded for 2006.

Visit the Venue Locations page for more information.

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Ceremonies FireworksCeremonies

Like any celebration involving thousands of people from all points on the globe, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies are destined to be thrilling events. The MCG will come to life with performers, athletes and spectators all gathering to celebrate the Commonwealth, sport, and all of it in the spirit of peaceful competition.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games will be one of the largest shows ever staged in Australia.

The Ceremony will not just be confined within the walls of the MCG – it will involve an extraordinary cross section of the community, brought together in new ways to create one of the largest community events in Victoria’s history.

Up to 8000 performers, volunteers and athletes from across the Commonwealth will be involved in this spectacular celebration, which will be supported by the Australian Government as a showcase of our unique country – its culture, its spirit and its people.

Jack Morton Worldwide has been appointed to produce the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Their previous work includes the ceremonies of the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games, the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, and most recently the spectacular Ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Of course ‘what’s in the show?’ is the one question we can’t answer yet. All you can say is – expect the unexpected.

Melbourne’s landmark MCG will provide the stage for the ceremonies. The ‘G is one of the largest stadiums to ever house Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Even bigger than the Athens Olympic stadium, and located in the heart of Melbourne, it’s the ultimate area to host an event of a lifetime.

Visit the Ceremonies page for more information.

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Fireworks at the MCG at the closing of Melbourne 2006.
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