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Forum demonstrations shrink; protesters move to Olympics


MELBOURNE, Australia - Street protests that have marred the World Economic Forum fizzled today as demonstrators traveled to Sydney, aiming to take their anti-government message to the Olympic Games.

Buses carrying some of the 850 delegates arrived easily at the riverfront casino forum venue. Earlier in the week, vehicles were stopped at barricades as protesters denounced the Asia-Pacific meeting of the Geneva-based conference.

Morning sessions focused on the need to increase the supply of well-trained workers in Asia and how to bring more countries within the World Trade Organization's rule system.

About 300 Victoria state officers in riot gear ringed the Crown Casino, but they did not have to spring into action as they did Monday, when they faced as many as 10,000 activists across police lines.

S-11, an umbrella group of anti-free-traders, pro-ecology groups and animal rights activists, said it was focusing on blocking "key entrances," acknowledging that it did not have the numbers to hamper entry for a third consecutive day.

"There are large numbers of people on the way back to go to the Olympic protests," said Jody Betzian, an S-11 spokesman. Betzian said the planned Sydney demonstrations would center on "concern for indigenous issues."

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates left yesterday by helicopter, having to cancel two afternoon events because of security concerns. Gates intends to visit Olympic sites, as do other prominent chief executives, including Douglas Daft of Coca-Cola Co. and Louis Gerstner of IBM Corp.

In Sydney, security forces said they were ready to put down any move that might mar Friday night's opening ceremonies at Olympic Stadium.

Police Commissioner Peter Ryan told Channel Nine TV news that his forces are ready for protesters who took part in the bloody clashes with Victoria police. He said Sydney police will allow "peaceful demonstrations" but will deal "very firmly" with anyone who attempts to disrupt the Games.

Later today, World Trade Organization Deputy Director-General Andrew Stoler will address the delegates on the future of the trade body and how it needs to be improved to effectively regulate the global trading environment.

Other speakers scheduled today were Heinrich von Pierer, chairman of Siemens AG, Germany's largest electronics company; Teruo Masaki, corporate senior executive vice president of Sony Corp., Japan's No. 2 consumer electronics maker by sales; and Paul Anderson, managing director of Broken Hill Proprietary Co., Australia's largest resources company.

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