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Newsletter Issue 11 June 05

Best Commonwealth Games Ballot in history

Nearly 1.5 million tickets were requested in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Ballot, making the Melbourne 2006 Ballot the most successful Commonwealth Games Ballot in history.

The Ticket Ballot closed at midnight on Friday April 22, and the Ballot was conducted on May 9 and 10. Melbourne 2006 has confirmed sales of over 675,000 tickets to the 16 sports and 24 disciplines to be contested at the Games, out of the 1,245,833 tickets available to the public in the Ballot.

This smashes the previous record set at Manchester in 2002, where 750,000 tickets were available through the Ballot, 500,000 tickets were requested and 310,000 – or 41 per cent - were confirmed sales.

It also betters the spectacular success of Sydney 2000’s first Ticket Ballot, where 49 per cent of the tickets available were fulfilled in the Ballot.

In the last 48 hours that the Ticket Ballot was open, Games organisers were overwhelmed with applications, with almost half a million tickets requested.

Following the running of the Ticket Ballot, Melbourne 2006 has also confirmed that in 59 of the 241 Commonwealth Games sessions no further tickets are available.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chairman Mr Ronald J Walker described the Ballot result as “phenomenal”.

“This is a great success for Australia – can I thank all Australians for their support,” Mr Walker said.

“Australians have recognised the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will be a unique, world-class event, with the best athletes of the Commonwealth competing in one of the world’s greatest sporting cities.”

Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden said: “This fantastic response to tickets demonstrates Victorians have embraced the affordability and accessibility of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games”.

“The public is overwhelmingly keen to be involved in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – both on and off the field.”

“We are particularly pleased that the Organising Committee has reported strong support for Commonwealth Games events in regional Victoria - in particular the preliminary Basketball matches at Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon.”
Following the conclusion of the Ticket Ballot in early May, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation has announced that all Ballot applicants will have a two week window to apply for further Games tickets before they are released to the general public.

As part of a “Special Ticket Offer”, Ticket Ballot applicants have the opportunity to apply for tickets across a range of sports and venues, including events like Athletics at the MCG and Rugby 7s at Telstra Dome.

For further information go to www.melbourne2006.com.au

Chairman's message

With the ‘300 Days To Go’ milestone behind us, the support and enthusiasm from the Australian public for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games continues to mount.

From the overwhelming response from Australians to our call for volunteers, to the anticipation generated by the announcement of the national route for the Queen’s Baton Relay, this quarter has shown these will indeed be a Games which will see sports fans across the Commonwealth ‘United by the Moment’.

One of the most tangible signs of the public’s support for these Games was the outstanding results for the Ticket Ballot. Over 675,000 tickets have been allocated, and all Ballot applicants have been given a “Special Ticket Offer” in recognition of their support, meaning they will have access to remaining tickets before they go on sale to the general public later in the year.

There was also a phenomenal response to our call for volunteers, demonstrated on the national roadshow.

Federal Treasurer, the Hon Peter Costello, launched the Queen’s Baton Relay National Route on the 29 April. A 50-day Australian itinerary was announced seeing the Baton arrive in Sydney for Australia Day. I was also delighted by the news from the Prime Minister, John Howard, which followed shortly afterwards that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has confirmed she will open the Games at the MCG on 15 March next year.

Once again, I would like to take the opportunity to thank corporate Australia for the support it continues to provide. Australia Post has become the Official Postal and Courier Sponsor. Additionally, Australia’s largest hotel group, Accor Asia Pacific, has been appointed as the Official Hotel Group for the Games.

Finally, two major milestones involving the Official Games Mascot, Karak. The annual count of South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos took place on 1st May, and Karak’s younger cousin, Karak Junior, celebrated his first birthday at Healesville Sanctuary.

Ronald J. Walker AC

Australian itinerary for Queen's Baton revealed

On April 29 the Federal Treasurer, the Hon Peter Costello MP, announced the 50-day Australian itinerary the Queen’s Baton will travel as it concludes its marathon journey across the Commonwealth to reach the Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The Queen’s Baton arrives at its 71st and final destination, Australia, on 24 January 2006. The baton will then travel more than 21 500 kilometres across Australia, by relay runners and on 45 different modes of transport – approximately 9700 kilometres by road, 9300 by air, 1000 by sea and 1500 by rail.

During the final leg of its 180 000km global odyssey, the baton will visit more than 500 Australian communities and be carried by 3500 relay runners, of which 1925 will be selected from the broader community as part of Presenting Partner Telstra’s Community Runner Program.

David Moffatt, Telstra’s Group Managing Director, Consumer and Marketing invited all Australians to “put up their hands for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help carry the Queen’s Baton to the Games”, and nominate themselves, a friend or relative for the community runner program.

Australians and permanent residents over 12 years of age (as at 25 January 2006) are eligible to nominate themselves or others for community runner places. Selection is based on merit, with judges seeking those who have contributed to their community, achieved against the odds or performed acts of considerable generosity or kindness. Nomination forms are available at www.queensbatonrelay.telstra.com, Telstra Shops and Telstra Country Wide Offices across the nation, or by calling the Melbourne 2006 hotline on 1300 00 2006.

Community runners comprise 55 per cent of the 3500 Queen’s Baton Relay runner places in Australia. Other runner places will be allocated to Commonwealth Games athletes, Games partners and high profile Australians.

Also unveiled at the event was ‘I Am Strong’, the official anthem of the Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton Relay, performed by four-piece Melbourne group, NORTH. A moving tribute to success in the face of adversity, the power ballad has been recorded especially for the relay.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay commenced from Buckingham Palace on 14 March 2005, and so far has travelled to all European nations of the Commonwealth and is now in Africa.

The Queen's Baton European journey

On 19 April, Europe farewelled the Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton with a huge send off at London’s Trafalgar Square. By then the baton had travelled more than 25 000 kilometres of its epic voyage to the Games and visited all 10 European nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

The event had a decidedly African flavour, with crowds of thousands entertained by performers, musicians and dancers from The Gambia, the first nation in Africa to receive the baton. It is currently travelling across Africa, where it is being warmly welcomed by thousands of people in cities, towns and villages across the continent.

Highlights from Europe included the relay commencement ceremony at Buckingham Palace and visits to other iconic destinations, including England’s Stonehenge, Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle, Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, the Rock of Gibraltar and the ancient Greek ruins of Cyprus.

Along the way it has been proudly carried by more than 8500 relay runners in Europe and Africa including past, present and future Commonwealth Games champions, local celebrities and community heroes.

CGF declares Melbourne is ready

More than 180 delegates from 71 Commonwealth nations were impressed with the level of preparation and readiness for the Games when they toured each of the competition venues and the Games Athletes Village as part of the program for the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly held in Melbourne on 4-10 April 2005.

Delegates toured the Parkville village site on 7 April and according to Commonwealth Games Federation President, Michael Fennell, they liked what they saw. “We think it’s going to turn out quite well,” Mr Fennell said.
“From what I’ve seen, they’ve (Government and Organisers) responded to all the recommendations.”

The overwhelming response from all delegates was one of delight with the progress of venues and Melbourne in general.

Delegates also attended a function hosted by Commonwealth Games Minister, Justin Madden, where they met the Mayors of their adopted Victorian Council through the ‘Adopt a Second Team’ program.

A highlight of the visit was an invitation onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) during an AFL match to witness first-hand the breath-taking experience that is the MCG filled with sports-mad Australians. The event will be remembered by those involved as a great example of how links can be forged between the vibrant and dynamic nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Harnden, said he was pleased with the outcomes and response of the delegates from the CGF General Assembly.

“We are overwhelmed by the overall high satisfaction amongst delegates with the Games Athletes Village, venues and our readiness for the Games,” Mr Harnden said.

”We are particularly proud to introduce the most stringent anti-doping regime to be experienced at any Games yet and to make final decisions on the maximum number of entries per Commonwealth Games Association for Synchronised Diving (two pairs per event) and Elite Athletes with a Disability multi-disability events (including classifications for Athletics and Aquatics).”

Minister Madden was also pleased with the feedback from delegates on Melbourne’s venues and Games Village.

“We’re very pleased with the progress that’s occurring, you just have to look at the MCG, the progress at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and the huge progress being made on the village, all those projects are on time and we’re confident about the delivery.”

“We want the best amenities and the best living conditions and we are doing just that,” said Minister Madden.

Anti-doping update

One of the highlights of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly was the Anti-Doping Seminar that took place on Friday 8 April.

The CGF informed delegates that Melbourne 2006 would have the most stringent anti-doping program in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

Seminar speakers included David Howman - Director-General, World Anti-Doping Agency, Dr M Jegathesan - Honorary Medical Adviser, CGF, Michelle Verroken - Director of Doping Control at Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and Dr Peter Harcourt - Chief Medical Officer, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Delegates were told the Athens Olympics raised the standard of drug testing with technological advances in blood and urine testing resulting in a large number of ‘no shows’ and positive tests, including higher profile athletes and gold medallists.

The Melbourne Games will aim to build on the rigorous and successful Athens drug testing program. Specifically, there will be much wider use of blood tests, in conjunction with a urine test regime. While Manchester only conducted 17 blood tests out of a total of nearly 1000 samples taken (.017 per cent), next year’s Games in Melbourne will see the conduct of up to 20 per cent of tests via blood samples.

Chief Medical Officer of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Dr Peter Harcourt said: “The clear message Melbourne 2006 will be sending to athletes in the lead up to Commonwealth Games with regards to drugs is - don’t do it”.

“And if you take banned substances, you will be found out. In recent years the testing regimes have caught up and in many areas actually overtaken those trying to cheat the system. Cheating athletes run a real risk of being caught, no matter how sophisticated they are,” Dr Harcourt warned.

Qantas and the Games fly high

New South Wales showed their support for the Games after receiving an official invitation from the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks as he arrived in Sydney on the newly-unveiled Qantas Melbourne 2006 plane on Tuesday 31 May 2006.

Mr Bracks travelled with a contingent of Games representatives, on the Qantas aircraft’s maiden flight from Melbourne to Sydney, to extend the special invitation – a gesture symbolised by presenting New South Wales Premier Bob Carr with a replica of the Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton.

“I extend an invitation to Premier Carr and all the people of New South Wales to join us in Victoria for the Games. The state will come alive with a celebration of sport and culture that should not be missed,” Mr Bracks said.

Mr Carr thanked Premier Bracks for the ‘personal invitation’, shared some of his Olympic experience and wished the Victorian Government and its people the best for the Games.

“Premier Bracks and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee have our full support as they work to deliver a great event for all Australians,” Mr Carr said.

Qantas Chairman, Ms Margaret Jackson, spoke at the unveiling of Qantas’ long tradition of involvement with the Commonwealth Games, extending back more than 50 years to its predecessor, the Empire Games.

“Qantas is honoured to be a Partner of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and to be ‘sharing the spirit’ of the Games by flying our Melbourne 2006 737-800 aircraft throughout Australia to encourage all Australians to get behind this great event,” Ms Jackson said.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chairman Mr Ronald J Walker thanked Qantas for their support and welcomed New South Wales residents to join in the excitement of the Games.

“Qantas is one of the world’s leading airlines and our partnership is a reflection of the company’s endorsement of the tremendous benefits the Games will bring to Melbourne and Australia,” Mr Walker said.

“We also welcome our team of volunteers from New South Wales who have generously put up their hand to help us deliver the best cultural and sporting ever held in Victoria.”

Travel packages including Games tickets, air travel and accommodation are available now through licensed travel agents or by calling Qantas Holidays on 13 14 15 or qantas.com.au

Athlete profile – Katie Mactier

At 24, Katie Mactier was faced with an ultimatum - continue working at a top advertising agency or resign, get a job as a waitress and move back home.

Katie chose the latter option and her professional cycling career began.

“My family couldn’t believe I was taking this path but they supported the decision I was making and I knew it was now or never!” Mactier said.

The St Kilda girl’s passion for cycling began a little different than most elite athletes. She started taking part in triathlons to get fit. It quickly became apparent Mactier would be more than a ‘Sunday rider’.

“I gave myself 12 months to have a serious go and I knew if it didn’t work out I would have no regrets,” she said.

In 2001, Mactier was selected for the Australian Road team – a result she described as ‘a career highlight’. It really validated for me that I had made the right decision.”

While the vivacious blonde began her cycling career in road events, track has become her pet event – and how? She won an unexpected Olympic Silver Medal at Athens in 2004 in the track individual pursuit. Then, in March she flew to Los Angeles to compete in the Track World Championships – and returned to Melbourne as the individual pursuit world champion.

Next stop in her stellar career is Melbourne in March 2006 – and the stage is set for Games glory in front of her home town set to compete on the track and road events.

“I’m an incredibly proud Melburnian, and Australian, and I know the Games will do a terrific job to showcase Melbourne to
the Commonwealth.”

Accor appointed as the 'Official Hotel Group' for the Games

Victorian Tourism Minister John Pandazopoulos was joined by Accor Asia Pacific Managing Director Michael Issenberg, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chairman, Mr Ronald J Walker and Chief Executive Officer John Harnden on 4 May to officially announce Australia’s largest hotel group, Accor Asia Pacific, as the ‘Official Hotel Group’ for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Accor’s five-star flagship hotel in Melbourne, the Sofitel Melbourne, has in turn been appointed the ‘Official Games Family Hotel’, while the Accor Premiere Vacation Club will also be an event sponsor, designated the role of ‘Official Holiday Ownership Club’. In addition, Accor also receives Australian Commonwealth Games Team rights which continues their ongoing support of Australian teams.

Mr Pandazopoulos said 50,000 interstate and 40,000 international tourists were expected to visit Victoria for the Games, with many of those visitors staying at one of Accor’s Victorian facilities.

“I am delighted that the Accor Group has joined the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games rapidly expanding sponsorship family. The Accor Group will not only provide first class accommodation options, but also create hundreds of jobs for the Victorian economy,” Mr Pandazopoulos said.

Accor Asia Pacific Managing Director Michael Issenberg said the group was uniquely placed to support the event.

“This is a priceless opportunity to showcase the city on the world tourism stage, and quality, affordable accommodation is a key ingredient in the organisers’ commitment to making this the best-ever Commonwealth Games.

Accor is the largest hotel operator in the Melbourne region, with 20 hotels under the brands Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, Formule 1 and base backpackers.

Australia Post helps deliver the Games

Australia Post Ambassadors athlete Josh Ross, swimmer Giaan Rooney and diver Loudy Tourky announced Australia Post’s commitment as a Sponsor of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games on 17 April.

As the Official Postal and Courier Sponsor, Australia Post will deliver Games tickets to all Australians.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer John Harnden welcomed Australia Post to the Games Sponsor Family with Games Mascot Karak at the Melbourne GPO Post shop.

“We look forward to working closely with Australia Post to efficiently deliver the Games tickets and to put on the best Games ever,” Mr Harnden said.

Australia Post Managing Director Graeme John said Australia Post was proud to support the Australian team and to be part of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

“We look forward to lending our support to the Games and continuing our ongoing commitment to major community initiatives and supporting Australian athletes competing at the world’s premier sporting events,” Mr. John said.

Counting on our mascot

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Official Mascot, Karak, recently joined more than 100 volunteers across south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia to participate in the annual Karak count.

Final results showed there are now 935 South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in the region – up from 736 last year. While things are improving, Karak is still on the endangered species list.

The count has taken place each year since 1996 to help monitor the endangered bird’s population with volunteers covering more than 2200 kilometres of Stringybark Forest in search of the cockatoo.

With its habitat declining, Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Mr Justin Madden, has stepped in announcing a new tree-planting site in Victoria’s south-west as part of the Victorian Government’s Commonwealth Games Environment Program.

“These trees will be one of the many enduring benefits of the Commonwealth Games. They will provide generations of ‘Karaks’ with food,” Mr Madden said.

Karak also flew into Casterton in Victoria’s South-west to help the search for his fellow friends and took time out to kick the footy at the local Australian Football junior league AusKick clinic.

Karak Junior’s 1st birthday

Healesville Sanctuary recently played host to Commonwealth Games athletes and more than 300 children to celebrate the first birthday of Karak Junior, the younger cousin of Games Mascot, Karak.

In honour of Karak Junior’s birthday, special guests Kyle Van Der Kuyp (triple Commonwealth Games finalist 110m hurdles) and Paul Burgess (Pole Vaulter, ranked top 10 in the world) came to celebrate. Games Sponsor Nestlé Peters donated a giant ice-cream cake for Karak Junior to share with his friends.

However as the athletes and the children enjoyed the cake and joined in the festivities the guest of honour, Karak Junior, was too sick to attend!

The party was instead attended by special guest ‘Baby Karak’ – a four week old South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. Baby Karak is only the second ever of the species to be bred in captivity behind Karak Junior.

As for the birthday boy, he is now reportedly “very, very well” according to Dianne Logg of Healesville Sanctuary. “He made a full recovery just days after the party,” Dianne Logg said. Karak Junior is now looking forward to his 2nd birthday party which coincides with the Games Closing Ceremony on March 26, 2006.

National Volunteer roadshow

Australians responded overwhelming to the call for volunteers earlier this year and our Games assessment team travelled the length and breadth of the country to interview those hopefuls who are keen to become a Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games volunteer.

The national volunteer roadshow began in the regional Victorian city of Geelong on 3 March and concluded in Darwin on 27 May. The Games assessment team visited 11 Victorian regional towns and all Australian capital cities during the three month volunteer roadshow.

Hopeful volunteer candidates took part in a one hour interview and group assessment activity at each location. Up to 15,000 volunteers are needed for the Games for 400 different types of roles at over 80 events around Victoria.

Volunteer candidates will be notified if they were successful from the volunteer roadshow throughout 2005 prior to commencing their training and receiving their accreditation and uniform for the Games.

Federal Minister for the Arts and Sport Senator Rod Kemp said the Australian Government was proud to be providing $18.2 million to fully fund the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Volunteer Program. This direct financial support recognises the vital role volunteers will play in successfully staging the Games.

“The overwhelming response to the call for Games volunteers demonstrates how vibrant the spirit of volunteerism is across the country,” Senator Kemp said.

The Volunteer Program is a national recruitment drive with 15 per cent of applications received from interstate, applications particularly strong in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

The Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Justin Madden, said anyone who had missed out on a Games volunteer position still had a chance to volunteer through other community based organisations.

“The Victorian Government is committed to capturing the enthusiasm for volunteering created by the Games and promoting a culture where more people give their time to helping in the community,” Mr Madden said.

Official sponsors supporting the Volunteer Program include Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, who will deliver training to all of the Games Workforce including volunteers, Yakka, the Official Workforce Uniform Provider for the Games, and Qantas.

Games first

University student Rahna Demarte is Victoria’s first successful female provisional volunteer for the Games Volunteer Program.

Demarte has been involved in sport since a young age, winning the 1998 Junior World Cycling Championship 500m Time Trial. Demarte, now 23, took some time out to talk to the Games team.

Why did you decide to become a volunteer?
After Sydney Olympic Games I didn’t volunteer and really regretted it so I couldn’t miss out on this chance.

Have you ever volunteered before?
I volunteered with Cycling Sport Victoria and the Australian Cycling Federation.

Best thing about the Games?
Looking forward to being a part of a once-in-a-life time event!

Favourite Commonwealth Games sport?
Cycling, I’m a huge fan.

Do you have a favourite Athlete?
Katie Mactier, but I’m looking forward to the competition between the UK and New Zealand which should prove to be very tough.

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