Twenty years ago, Catherine Freeman, a proud Indigenous Australian athlete, lit the Olympic Cauldron marking the Opening Ceremony of Sydney 2000, a Games that celebrated not only sports achievement but also unity, forgiveness, resilience, and innovation.
In the 2000 Olympic Games, Bermuda was represented by Brian Wellman, Mary Jane Tumbridge, Sara Wright, Stephen Fahy, Peter Bromby, and Lee White.
Two decades later, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts lives, Sydney’s Olympic legacy and its post-Games venues are keeping that spirit alive by offering a safe space for comfort and hope.
The 430-hectare Olympic Park is seeing record visitor numbers. In April alone, 336,000 people flocked to the vast area to walk, cycle or just relax in the place which kick-started this millennium’s first Olympic Games.
It was here that Catherine Freeman sent a clear signal by lighting the Olympic Cauldron: Sydney 2000 was going to use its platform to unite, heal, and energize the country. And the rest of the world.
Wearing a full green and white bodysuit, she delivered a sensational victory of a 400-meter race in front of an ecstatic crowd of spectators. The iconic moment is seen by many as a starting point for her country’s national reconciliation, leading eventually in 2008 to a symbolic apology by Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the country’s Indigenous peoples.
John Coates, Australia’s President of the National Olympic Committee, Vice-President of the IOC, and the Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission says Sydney 2000’s anniversary should be more than a celebration of sports history. Rather, he says, it is an opportunity to reflect on the role of the Games and other sports events that could help to unite the world.
It was also at those games that Bermuda has come ever so close to winning another medal as Bromby and White finished 4th sailing in the Star Class.