Prime Minister Does Not Want Queen To Open Sydney’s 2000 Olympics
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Prime Minister Paul Keating does not want the British monarch to open the Olympics Games here in 2000.
Keating said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that the granting of the summer Games to Sydney has boosted his campaign to declare Australia a republic and replace Queen Elizabeth II as titular leader with an Australian president.
Until now Keating has suggested 2001 as the year for the change to coincide with the centenary of the federation of Australia’s six states into one nation.
However, he told Channel Nine television that a president could be in place before the Games.
″It is a possibility, it is,″ he said. ″Somebody’s got to open the Games. It is normally the head of state. I think the world would wonder, would they not, if Australia’s Games are opened by the constitutional head of another nation.″
Australia is an independent country. However, like some other former British colonies, such as Canada and New Zealand, it has retained the British monarch as its head of state.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, opened the Olympics in another Australian city, Melbourne, in 1956. The Queen opened the Montreal Games in 1976.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the Games to Sydney in a secret ballot on Thursday ahead of other candidate cities: Beijing; Berlin; Manchester, England; and Istanbul, Turkey.
Keating returned to Australia on Sunday, ending a two-week tour that included talks with the IOC in Monte Carlo, with President Clinton in Washington and the outlining of plans for a republic to the Queen at a private meeting at her summer residence of Balmoral Castle, Scotland.
Keating said Australia was awarded the Games because of its ″good values,″ adding:
″The key point is it will show the world Australia as we now are - as a multicultural country, as a successful independent country.″