Tens of thousands of supporters are expected to line Sydney’s streets tomorrow to welcome back the 2008 Australian Olympic team.
A parade of Beijing olympians will begin at The Rocks at noon (AEST) and proceed up George Street to the Town Hall where Australian flag bearer James Tomkins will address the crowd and receive the keys to the city from Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
Swimming superstar Libby Trickett will accept a plaque from NSW Premier Nathan Rees on behalf of the 435 athletes who competed in Beijing.
The Olympians, who won 46 medals between them, including 14 gold, arrived back in Sydney last month to much fanfare after finishing sixth in the medal tally and winning a podium position in 14 sports.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Office for Special Events, Katie Melrose, said “tens of thousands” of people were expected to view the parade.
She encouraged people to get a spot early and said the best vantage points would be from Martin Place to Town Hall.
About 150 athletes are expected to represent the squad, including gold medallist pole vaulter Steve Hooker and triathlon gold medallist Emma Snowsill.
The parade will be led by a troop of Chinese dancers, a dedication to this year’s host nation.
It will wrap up with a tribute to the 2012 hosts, London.
Melrose said athletes would march in the alphabetical order of their sport beginning with archery.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates said the homecoming parades, which will be held throughout Australia, were enjoyed by the athletes and public alike.
“The celebrations are a great conclusion to the Beijing campaign where the athletes can celebrate their success and the public can pay tribute to the athletes’ achievement,” Coates said in a statement.
The RTA has warned motorists to expect delays in the Sydney CBD.
George St will be closed between Hickson Road and Goulburn Street from 9.30am (AEST) and other roads around the parade route will be closed at 11am.
Roads are expected to reopen to traffic by 3pm.
NSW Transport Minister David Campbell urged people to use public transport to get into the city tomorrow and encouraged all Sydneysiders to welcome home the team.
“I’d encourage the whole city to turn out for this celebration of Australia’s sporting achievements,” Campbell said in a statement.
Sydney is the first stop for the athletes who will visit each state and territory capital for a parade or public event, wrapping up in Canberra on September 23.