SYDNEY — Mitt Romney saw plenty during his first day in the city hosting the 2000 Summer Games, but what he really liked were the cash registers at the official Olympic "super store."

That's because the registers are able to ring up sales in just one minute. And there are twice as many of them as organizers for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta had in a similar facility.

"I was very impressed with what an excellent job they've done," Romney said Tuesday, ticking off a list of statistics about the store despite having stepped off a plane just hours earlier.

That is, after all, what he's here to do. Romney and about 100 other Salt Lake Organizing Committee officials and employees are in Sydney to learn about what makes the Games go.

That includes moving Olympic merchandise. Salt Lake City will have its own massive outlet for official 2002 Winter Games products somewhere downtown.

Romney said the exact location hasn't been chosen, although it could be in the Gateway development under construction or near the site of the medals plaza by the Delta Center.

Salt Lake's store will be slightly smaller than Sydney's, about 25,000 square feet compared to 30,000 here. As many as 900 people can squeeze into the store, which sells some 5,000 different products.

Such stores are a real attraction during the Games. Romney said it could take two to three hours to get inside Sydney's store once the Games begin Friday.

Also during his tour of the Olympic Park site, located in a Sydney suburb, Romney had a peek at a rehearsal of the opening ceremonies at Stadium Australia.

He described the Aboriginal performance he saw as moving but declined to say whether American Indians will play a role in Salt Lake's show at the University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium.

True to form, Romney spent most of his time at the 110,000-seat arena checking out the facility's features. He marveled at cables strung across the stadium to allow props to be moved quickly during the ceremonies.

Salt Lake won't have that or other luxuries that Romney noted in the brand-new stadium designed for the Games. But, he said, the Winter Games have something Sydney doesn't: mountains.

"God has a way with creation that man can only try to emulate. You can't build a mountain," he said.

Romney also plans to attend an announcement of an international-level sponsor for the 2002 Winter Games, likely Panasonic, scheduled for Thursday.

IOC officials already announced this week that Samsung will continue as an international-level sponsor through the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.


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