Athletics: Aborigines propose own Sydney games

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES plan to invite their indigenous brothers and sisters from around the world to an Olympics-style festival in the Sydney 2000 stadium.

Plans for the inaugural World Indigenous Games - including traditional sports such as spear-throwing - were announced by the veteran Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins at an indigenous sports conference in Canberra yesterday.

"Some people say why should you have an Indigenous Games - well they've got the Gay Games, they've got the University Games, they've got the Maccabiah Games for Jewish people," he said.

The games could be held as soon as 2003 if the idea got off the ground, using the facilities built for the Sydney Olympics.

And with about 10,000 athletes expected to attend, the games would also be a statement of indigenous culture and identity.

"We want to make a blaze of colour when it starts, so that people in Australia and throughout the world will see the indigenous people in the world have not died, they're not going to disappear, they're still here and they are going to make a great contribution," Perkins said. Events would include orthodox events such as athletics, swimming, boxing and traditional indigenous games such as lacrosse and spear-throwing.

Perkins said indigenous peoples from around the world - such as North American Indians, Canadian Inuits, Alaskan Eskimos and Aleuts, and indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa - would be invited to the games. There are already annual North American Indigenous Games. Last year's event attracted more than 6,000 athletes from Canada and the United States.

There are no national indigenous games in Australia, although there is a long tradition of Aboriginal sport. The first sports team to represent Australia abroad was made up of a group of Aboriginal cricketers in 1868.