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LET THE OLYMPIC GAMES BE GREEN

In a festive welcome, the Greenpeace flagship, the SV Rainbow Warrior, sailed into Sydney Harbour today, with a message to carry the Green Games torch beyond Sydney 2000.

Greenpeace zodiacs met the Rainbow Warrior at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. A firetug, solar powered sailing vessel, yachts and spectators along the foreshore celebrated its passage through the Harbour and past Sydney's Opera House. Aboriginal elder, Aly Golding, welcomed the Rainbow Warrior on behalf of Australia's traditional owners at an arrival ceremony at Circular Quay.

On arrival the Rainbow Warrior hoisted a 17 x 3 metre banner reading "Give the Planet a Sporting Chance". Greenpeace is calling on governments, industry, Olympic organisers and individuals to implement the environmental solutions showcased at Sydney's 2000 Green Games.

"The Green Games show that environmentally damaging habits can be broken if there is creativity and commitment," said Greenpeace Chief Executive Officer, Peter Mullins.

"We have seen green solutions working in Sydney. They should no longer be considered alternatives, but cost-effective, mainstream practices."

The Rainbow Warrior has come to Sydney as part of Greenpeace's Olympics campaign. Greenpeace conceived of the Green Games concept in 1992 and has worked independently since then to ensure Sydney 2000 delivered on its environmental commitments. Renewable energy, the clean-up of toxic waste, sustainable timber, recycled water, a recycling and composting waste system, 'Greenfreeze' refrigeration units - all of these elements show that alternatives to environmentally damaging practices do exist for use now.

Australian triple gold medallist Shirley Strickland was among those welcoming the Rainbow Warrior. She spoke of her belief that the international Olympic spirit of friendly competition and cooperation is the perfect platform for global environmental solutions.

"All the nations of the world are becoming aware of the need for environmental protection," Strickland said. "I hope they take home some of the messages about environmental protection that we're showcasing in Sydney."

Australian Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill also attended the welcome.

The Rainbow Warrior has arrived in Sydney from the northern Pacific where Greenpeace exposed the toxic legacy of US military bases and the health effects on Pacific Islanders. It had previously campaigned successfully against illegal logging in Russia, Japan and at the G8 Summit in Okinawa, where Greenpeace activists were arrested and the vessel raided by Japanese police.

Note: July marked the 15th anniversary of the sinking of the original Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour. That Rainbow Warrior was preparing to lead a flotilla of boats in a peaceful protest against French nuclear testing in Moruroa when it was bombed by French Government agents.

The SV Rainbow Warrior II was launched in 1989, adopting her predecessor's mandate. In 1996, she also faced similar violence when she peacefully protested French nuclear testing at Moruroa Atoll. French agents stormed aboard, setting off tear gas canisters and impounding the vessel for five months.

Greenpeace has closely monitored all aspects of the preparation for the Games, which open on Sept. 15, issuing regular reports on areas including public transport, biodiversity protection and the use of renewable energy. Finally, the Sydney Games were awarded a "bronze medal" for environmentalism, with a major drawback being the New South Wales government's failure to clean up parts of Homebush Bay adjoining the Olympic site. Homebush Bay is a former industrial center which remains contaminated with dioxin. Australian Olympian Shirley Strickland -- who won seven track and field medals in the 1948, 1952 and 1956 games -- urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to embrace the Green Games concept. "I hope the IOC will take this new direction and through sport become a world leader in environmental issues for those competing and for the small endangered planet that we all share," she said. Strickland said a bronze medal, of which she has three, was not a sign of failure. "I don't believe a bronze is a failure, at least it meant you tried, and that's the important thing."

But Will the Sydney Olympics Really be that Green?

Greenpeace recently unveiled its final report card for the Sydney Olympics, giving the Australian city 6 out of 10 for "greenness." Sydney has fallen short of the environmental goals it set when it used the promise of a "Green Games" to win the right to host the Olympics, Greenpeace says. But the organizers have nonetheless achieved much and are preparing to stage the "greenest" Olympics ever. In the Olympic Athletes Village, for example, 665 homes have solar water heating and grid-connected, one-kilowatt photovoltaic arrays. Following the Games, these homes will be sold and become a village of three New Urbanist neighborhoods.

In addition, the Sydney Olympics will be almost entirely car-free, with athletes and spectators using public transport, including new train lines built for the Games. Other achievements include protecting from development the habitat of two threatened frogs and a small virgin forest, and curtailing use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and refrigerants that deplete ozone or contribute to global warming (CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs). But Sydney failed to achieve some of its environmental goals; for example, cleanup of toxins in Homebush Bay, near the Olympic Village, hasn't progressed to the extent hoped for.

Written by: Greenpeace


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