2000 Sydney, Australia

The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an internationalmulti-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was the second time that the Summer Olympics were held in the Southern Hemisphere, the first one being in Melbourne in 1956, and as a result of this location and the dates, took place in early spring.

Sydney won the right to host the Games on 24 September 1993, after being selected over Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul and Manchester in four rounds of voting, at the 101st IOC Session in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

It has been estimated that the economic impact of the 2000 Olympics was that A$2.1 billion has been shaved from public consumption. Economic growth was not stimulated to a net benefit and in the years 2000, foreign tourism to NSW grew by less than tourism to Australia as a whole. A “multiplier” effect on broader economic development is not realised as a simple “multiplier” analysis fails to capture is that resources have to be redirected from elsewhere: the building of a stadium is at the expense of other public works such as extensions to hospitals. Building sporting venues does not add to the aggregate stock of productive capital in the years following the Games: “Equestrian centres, softball compounds and man-made rapids are not particularly useful beyond their immediate function.”

In the years after the games infrastructure issues have been of growing concern for citizens, especially those in the western suburbs of Sydney. Proposed rail links to Sydney’s west are estimated to cost in the same order of magnitude as the public expenditure on the games.

Controversies at the Sydney Olympics

Marion Jones, winner of three gold and two bronze medals for the United States, relinquished them in October 2007 after confessing that she had taken tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) from September 2000 through July 2001. The IOC formally stripped Jones and her relay teammates of their 5 medals, although her teammates were to be offered opportunity to present a case for retaining their medals. Eventually, Jones’s teammates had their medals reinstated. Jones was also banned from competing for two years by the IAAF.

On 2 August 2008, the International Olympic Committee stripped the gold medal from the U.S. men’s 4×400-meter relay team, after Antonio Pettigrew admitted using a banned substance. Three of the four runners in the event final, including Pettigrew and twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, and preliminary round runner Jerome Young, all have admitted or tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Only Angelo Taylor, who also ran in preliminary rounds, and world record holder Michael Johnson were not implicated. The medal was the fifth gold medal for world record holder Johnson, who stated he had already planned to return the medal because he felt “cheated, betrayed and let down” by Pettigrew’s testimony. The gold medal position for this event is now vacant.

On 28 April 2010, the IOC stripped China of its bronze medal from the women’s team competition for using an underage gymnast. The medal was awarded to the United States

Highlights at the Sydney Olympics

The Triathlon made its Olympic debut with the women’s race. Set in the surroundings of the iconic Sydney Opera House, Brigitte McMahon representing Switzerland swam, cycled and ran to the first gold medal in the sport, beating the favoured home athletes such as Michelie Jones who won silver. McMahon only passed Jones in sight of the finish line.

The first star of the Games was Ian Thorpe. The 17-year-old Australian first set a new world record in the 400 m freestyle final before competing in an exciting 4 x 100 m freestyle final. Swimming the last leg, Thorpe passed the leading Americans and arrived in a new world record time, two tenths of a second ahead of the Americans. In the same event for women, the Americans also broke the world record, finishing ahead of the Netherlands and Sweden.

The main event for the Australians on the fourth day of the Games was the 200 m freestyle. Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband had broken the world record in the semi-finals, taking it from the new Australian hero Ian Thorpe, who came close to the world record in his semi-final heat. As the final race finished, Van den Hoogenband’s time was exactly the same as in the semi-finals, finishing ahead of Thorpe by half a second.

China won the gold medal in the men’s team all-around gymnastics competition, after being the runner-up in the previous two Olympics. The other medals were taken by Ukraine and Russia, respectively.

Rulon Gardner, never a NCAA champion or a world medalist, beat Alexander Karelin of Russia to win gold in the super heavyweight class, Greco-Roman wrestling. Karelin had won gold in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta. Before this fight he had never lost in international competition, had been unbeaten in all competitions in 13 years, and had not surrendered a point in a decade.

Australian Cathy Freeman won the 400 metre final in front of a jubilant Sydney crowd at the Olympic Stadium, ahead of Lorraine Graham of Jamaica and Katharine Merry of Great Britain. Freeman’s win made her the first competitor in Olympic Games history to light the Olympic Flame and then go on to win a Gold Medal.

In a men’s basketball pool match between the USA and France, the USA’s Vince Carter made one of the most famous dunks in basketball history. After getting the ball off a steal, the 6’6″/1.98 m Carter drove to the basket, with 7’2″/2.18 m centre Frédéric Weis in his way. Carter jumped, spread his legs in midair, scraped Weis’ head on the way up, and dunked. The French media dubbed the feat le dunk de la mort (“the dunk of death”).

The last event of the games was the Mens Marathon, contested on a course that started in North Sydney. The event was won by Ethiopian Genzhnge Abera, with Eric Wananina second and Tesefe Tola, also of Ethiopia third. It was the first time since the 1968 Olympics that an Ethiopian had won the gold medal in this event.