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Organisers seek cooperation to keep opening ceremony a secret

Written by: Staff

Melbourne, Mar 13 (UNI) The organisers of the Commonwealth Games have resorted to a unique gimmick to heightened the curiosity about the opening ceremony of the event.

They have banned media breaking a story about it and have sought public cooperation in this regard.

''We want the opening ceremony to be an event people would remember for a long time to come. We don't want to kill the curiosity of the people about the event by disclosing the contents through media and hence the press will not be allowed to publish anything about the event till it actually takes place,'' said the organisers.

This is perhaps the the first time in the history of international sports that media has been banned from breaking a story about the opening ceremony.

Earlier this week, Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden had announced that media houses could face fines of as much as 240,000 Australian dollar (Rs.8,000,000) in case they leaked details of the opening ceremony.

Interestingly, the organisers gave out more than 30,000 tickets to a dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony held tonight. The actual opening ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday. All volunteers and staff of the organising committee were given two free passes each for the rehearsal. So, expecting so many people from keeping quiet till Wednesday is a bit too much, according to most journalists here.

The move to ban previews took even Prime Minister John Howard by surprise.

''It is ridiculous ... the Commonwealth Games is a great event but it's not national security, the opening ceremony,'' he said while speaking to Southern Cross radio station.

Mr Howard added, ''I mean, after all, an opening ceremony is an opening ceremony and if it gets out it's a pity, but good luck to the journalists - that's the nature of the craft.'' The press here, despite not apporoving of the ban, has not published any report on the dress rehersal so far.

''The suspense element should be there, it will add more charm to the Games'' according to Justin Madden.


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