Sharing the Olympic spirit

From almost any highrise building in Parramatta's CBD you can see the hive of activity at Homebush Bay &endash; home of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. As the closest major centre to the Olympic site, Parramatta is also gearing up in preparation for this once in a lifetime event.

Construction of two new international hotels is currently under way and special funding will be set aside in next year's budget to ensure the City is looking its best when the eyes of the world focus on Sydney.

Council is developing a program of activities to encourage Olympic spectators will make the short trip by bus, ferry or train to visit its historic attractions, savour a meal at the smorgasbord of restaurants and cafes, or indulge in a little 'retail therapy' between sporting events.

The City will experience the Olympics firsthand when the Olympic Torch arrives at Parramatta Park on September 12. Parramatta has been chosen as one of less than 200 communities throughout Australia to host a celebration for the torch during its 100 day relay around the continent.

The torch will remain overnight in Parramatta before it features at the opening ceremony three days later. Parramatta plans to use this opportunity to honour its local 'heroes' by encouraging residents to nominate suitable candidates as community torchbearers.

Lord Mayor Cr Paul Garrard, said the relay is a chance to recognise ordinary citizens who make extraordinary contributions to the community. "Parramatta has a wealth of quiet achievers who deserve to be honoured in this way," he said.

Continuing in the Olympic spirit, Parramatta has also been selected as one of only two volunteer recruitment centres in New South Wales for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During May and June, thousands of potential volunteers from across New South Wales will travel to Parramatta to take part in stage two of the recruitment and selection process.

The Parramatta Olympic Recruitment Centre is located in Council's library building. Over the next few months, Council also hopes to capitalise on its proximity to the Olympic site by encouraging overseas teams to use local facilities for pre Olympic training and administration.