SYDNEY'S Olympic Games would be the athletes' games - no venue more than 30 minutes away from any other, most within walking distance of the village where the athletes will live, all housed in a single village for the first time. It is that emphasis, even to providing free return travel for 15,000 athletes and officials and paying to transport yachts, canoes, rowing shells and horses, that is at the heart of the Australian city's bid for the 2000 Games. ''Sydney is extending to the Olympic family the hand of friendship which characterises the common bond between Olympism and Australianism,'' is the way Rod McGeoch, chief executive of the bid, sums it up. Not only will Sydney provide ''a joyful and youthful celebration of Olympism'', it will make sure no athlete misses out on that celebration for financial reasons. The bid is being run by Sydney Olympics Bid 2000 Ltd, a non-profit, joint venture between the New South Wales government, the City of Sydney and the Australian Olympic Committee, that self-destructs after the bid is decided, whether or not Sydney is successful. If it is, a new structure will be created to prepare for the Games. The bid focuses on what was once wasteland, a purpose-built Olympic park at Homebush Bay in the city's west. As well as accommodating the athletes in the townhouse-style development that will later be public and private housing, it will provide the venue for 14 of the 25 Olympic sports. The 650-hectare site is 14 kilometres from the centre of Sydney. As well as road and rail access, the bid provides for water access, via 22-minute trips on catamarans. Sydney's bid rated most highly with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) group that reported on technical aspects - a near perfect score helped by features such as access for the disabled and the environmentally-friendly village whose design involved a Greenpeace architect. The facilities to be built on the site include an Athletic Centre with seating for 5,000, plus the ability to house another 10,000 on grassy banks around its perimeter, and an international aquatic centre. It will have four pools and will cater for allwater sports disciplines - swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming. Construction of the A$300 million (about HK$1.55 billion) facilities is almost finished, in line with Sydney's claim that 70 per cent of its facilities would be in place when the IOC meets on September 23. The Sydney bid is not expected to lead to an outbreak of hotel building in the centre - in fact, local hotel industry analysts have warned against it, pointing to the example of Barcelona, left with a glut after its Games. Instead, the bid committee has arranged to supplement the large supply of hotel rooms available with 17 cruise ships anchored in the harbour. The Sydney bid has been boosted by strong local support, with surveys showing a large majority in favour and local community and ethnic groups staging rallies in support of it. Aboriginal communities have been divided over the desirability of winning the Games, but while those opposed initially planned a major campaign, they dropped it in favour of domestic land rights issues. Mr McGeoch's team has concentrated its lobbying efforts on international sporting events, sending flying squads to every major international event to persuade not only IOC members but the international media of the worth of the Sydney bid. The Games are expected to attract 270,000 visitors, with 5.6 million tickets on sale. Although most visitors would be confined to New South Wales, the hope throughout the country is that they would boost tourism, not only while the Games are on, but through return visitors and those inspired by television. When the verdict is announced at 4.20 am Sydney time on September 24, the streets will be alive with a giant party. at which huge screens will bring the result live to the crowds.