Going for gold

With the Olympic flame extinguished in Atlanta, attention has turned to preparations for the Games of the XXVII Olympiad to be held in Sydney in 2000.

Inevitably, questions are being asked as to whether the facilities will be ready. SOCOG (the Sydney Organising Committee for the Games) firmly believes they will be. In the meantime, scores of firms await invitations from the New South Wales government to tender for the provision of a range of facilities, or for their tenders to be considered. The government is applying a 20 per cent preference margin to the imported (ie non-Australian or New Zealand) content of any bid price when comparing tenders for government-funded projects.

The main Olympic site, Homebush Bay, approximately 14km from Sydney's central business district, will house the Olympic stadium, the athletes' village and a range of other sporting facilities. For the first time in modern Olympic history, all the athletes will live in one Olympic village.

Existing sporting facilities in the Sydney metropolitan area are being renovated for the Games. With reports of the transport difficulties experienced in Atlanta still fresh,

Sydney's transport network is being improved with the construction of motorways (privately-funded toll roads), internal roads, a railway station, a ferry terminal at the site and bus interchange facilities.

The government has demonstrated a willingness to explore innovative techniques to finance the infrastructure for the Games. The A$615m (£300m) main stadium, which will seat 110,000 and be the largest in Olympic history, will be 60 per cent financed by the public sale of packages to individual investors that comprise tickets to Olympic events, stadium club membership and stapled securities in the stadium and its management. The stadium will be leased for around 30 years by a trust and operated by a company that will be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Investors may sell the stapled securities as well as their rights to membership of the stadium on the secondary market, but they may not sell their rights to Olympic seating. This is intended to discourage the type of scalping which was prevalent in Atlanta. The financing for the stadium is one of the most complex equity raisings ever and took around 200 people from around 26 organisations, including seven law firms, more than 15 months to pull together.

Central to the success of promoting and marketing the Games is the protection of intellectual property rights in the Olympic symbols and associated Sydney 2000 logos and names. Official Olympic bodies have moved quickly to protect their intellectual property (IP) rights by implementing a strict regime for use of the trademarks.

Preparation for the Games has created many opportunities for Australian and foreign lawyers with the vast infrastructure projects and IP rights associated with the Games.

Australia has a proud Olympic history. It is one of only two nations to have competed in every Games since 1896 and had the highest number of medals per capita in Atlanta. The world now waits to judge its performance in 2000.

Amanda Barnett is a senior associate at Blake Dawson Waldron, London and Justin Shmith is a partner.