Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Sydney Olympic Village

Seeing as I’m in reminiscing mode, I thought I’d dig up some memories of my time in the religious centre at the Olympic Village in Sydney. As this was 12 years ago now, I find myself wishing I could remember more details. I also wish I could find my photos.

Here is an extract from my diary at the time – it’s quite factual, but I have other more pertinent memories to blog about another day. It does however make you wonder how village life will compare in 2012. No ‘discotheque’ I’m guessing!

‘6th Sept 2000. Village people!! Started working in the Olympic Village yesterday. It’s shift work but my hours are usually 8am to 6pm. So I was up at 5am to get the bus to Central, then the train to Lidcombe where shuttle buses run to the athletes village in the newly created suburb of Newington. There are 10,000 athletes and 5,000 officials going to be living there once it starts. Some have already arrived. Security is tight and there are hundreds of people, around 25,000 in total maybe?

I am in the International Zone where all the amenities are, like a discotheque serving no alcohol, a huge internet café (the aptly named ‘Surf Shack’, always chocka with athletes), shops selling souvenirs, Kodak, tickets etc, and a huge games hall with around 800 arcade machines and games. There’s also a cinema, admin blocks and of course, us, the religious services. The five main world faiths are represented, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Hindus – and there are representatives from each faith always on call.

I am on reception. The coolest people I met the first day were Phra Mana, a Buddhist monk from Thailand, and his colleague from Laos (forget his name, very difficult words to remember), whom I chatted with for ages. They have a real aura and I could sit and listen to them for ages. No one is allowed to force their beliefs on to anyone and no one tries to. It is fascinating to learn firsthand from people, to understand what they’re all about. Actually, I think it is amazing they can all get along under one roof – what the spirit of the games is all about, I guess. I felt privileged to have all these holy men and women around me, from all over the world.’

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