2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics took place on the evening of Friday 15 September 2000 in Stadium Australia, Sydney, during which the Games were formally opened by Governor-General Sir William Deane.[1][3][2][4] As mandated by the Olympic Charter, the proceedings combined the formal and ceremonial opening of this international sporting event, including welcoming speeches, hoisting of the flags and the parade of athletes, with an artistic spectacle to showcase the host nation's culture and history. Veteran ceremonies director Ric Birch was the Director of Ceremonies[5] while David Atkins was the Artistic Director and Producer.[6] Its artistic section highlighted several aspects of Australian culture and history, showing Australia's flora and fauna, technology, multiculturalism, and the hopeful moment of reconciliation towards Aboriginal Australians.[5][7] The ceremony had a cast of 12,687 performers,[8] seen by a stadium audience of around 110,000.[7]

2000 Summer Olympics
opening ceremony
End of 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.JPEG
Date15 September 2000; 20 years ago (2000-09-15)[1][2][3]
Time19:00 – 23:19 AEDT (UTC+11)[3]
VenueStadium Australia[1]
LocationSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates33°50′50″S 151°03′48″E / 33.84722°S 151.06333°E / -33.84722; 151.06333Coordinates: 33°50′50″S 151°03′48″E / 33.84722°S 151.06333°E / -33.84722; 151.06333
Filmed by
FootageSydney 2000 Opening Ceremony – Full Length on YouTube

The ceremony began at 19:00 AEDT and lasted over four-and-a-half hours.[7] Around 3.7 billion viewers worldwide watched the ceremony on TV.[4]

The ceremony was described by the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Juan Antonio Samaranch as the most beautiful ceremony the world had ever seen.[5][9] Consistent with normal major production management, the music was pre-recorded under studio conditions to ensure its quality.[10]

The stadium's French-language announcer was Pascale Ledeur, while the English-language announcer was Australian actor John Stanton.


As this was the 'Games of the New Millennium', there was a major reevaluation on how to present the Olympics, which included the ceremonies.[5] In regards to the Protocol of the ceremony, there had been no major changes in the ceremony format after Rome 1960 where the Olympic Anthem was sung, and a minor change with the symbolic release of doves starting at Lillehammer '94.[11] This was the first ceremony which re-ordered the Olympic Protocol section so to have the lighting of the cauldron at the end of the ceremony, rather than having it in the middle of the protocol section. This format and ordering has been the groundwork for all Olympic opening ceremonies after 2000.

The artistic section as we know it today, where it showed the host countries culture through a separate presentation, began in Moscow 1980 and was becoming more theatrical at each Olympics. The Moscow Opening ceremony was one that Birch had been personally impressed by.[12] This was the first Opening Ceremony which showed the host countries national culture through a narrative.[13]

Australian director Ric Birch had worked on global ceremonies for over 10 years, including directing the 1984 and 1992 Olympic ceremonies, when he got the job of Director of Ceremonies in September 1993.[14] The idea for the cauldron lighing was being planned by 1993, as they needed to consider requirements of the ceremony as part of the design of Stadium Australia, such as the waterproofing of the northern stand and extra supports for the cauldron.[15][16] For the rest of the ceremony, Birch wanted a model where each segment was organised by a director, who had a designer and music composer to work with, and was given free artistic reign in their segment as long as it was telling its part of the story.[17] The team of directors were assembled in 1997, with David Atkins as the head Artistic Director and Producer.[18]

In August 2000, the organisers announced the eleven principal and main performers, twenty-one composers and four conductors in a Melbourne press conference.[2]

Officials and guestsEdit

International organizations:

The wife of Juan Antonio Samaranch, María Teresa Salisachs Rowe, was seriously ill and was not able to accompany her husband to the Olympics (she died the following day, from cancer).[19] Therefore, Samaranch invited former Australian Olympic Champion swimmer, Dawn Fraser, to accompany him at the ceremony.[9] Dawn Fraser explained some of the cultural references in the display section to him.

Host nation:

Foreign dignitaries:



As spectators arrived, they found on their seats a yellow Globite case with Olympic Stickers on the front, reminiscent of those that once prevailed in Australian schoolrooms in the 20th Century. Inside the case were green and gold socks, a torch, cheer band, lapel pin, program, postcard, cards, earplugs, stickers and a Kodak CD Rom. The torch and cheer band – set with movement sensitive lights – illuminated the darkened stands during the Fire segment, Arrivals segment and the lighting of the cauldron, while Australian Olympic Team socks appeared prominently on the sea of waving hands during Australia's entry to the stadium.[20]

The Prelude segment lasted an hour before the ceremony started. It was hosted by Seven Network's Sports Commentator David Fordham and news presenter Chris Bath, while seven months pregnant with her first child, live on the northern stage in the stadium. It featured various performances, including a Welcome to Country from the Wangal people, children singing the official Team Welcome Song "G'day G'day", a recognition of the Bidding team and the Olympic volunteers, a recognition from the United Nations of the Olympic Truce, Mexican waves, and a singalong of "Waltzing Matilda" with John Williamson.[21][22][23]

Welcome and AnthemEdit

"Advance Australia Fair"
(Opening Ceremony)

Verse 1 (Sung by Human Nature as A cappella)
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Verse 2 (Sung by Julie Anthony with orchestra)
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Verse 1 Reprise (all voices)

The ceremony began with a countdown composed by Richard Mills performed by Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The large screens counted down from 60 to 1. Starting at 23, footage from previous games appeared with the phrase "Opening Ceremony" at the end.

The Opening Ceremony began with a tribute to the heritage of the Australian Stock Horse, with the arrival of a lone rider, Steve Jefferys, whose Australian Stock Horse, Ammo, reared. Jefferys then cracked his stockwhip and 120 riders and their Stock Horses entered the stadium performing a 'musical ride' with many intricate steps, to the music of Bruce Rowland who composed a special Olympic version of the main theme which he had composed for the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River.[24] Each rider held a flag with the Olympic Rings coloured turquoise. One of the configurations formed the five Olympic Rings.

A giant banner painted by Sydney artist Ken Done was unfurled, depicting the Sydney Harbour Bridge in bright colours, saying "G'Day" to the world.

The Governor-General Sir William Deane, the Prime Minister John Howard and the President of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch, arrived after a jazz fanfare was performed by James Morrison and Swing City, his brother's Big Band. The Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, was then sung by both Human Nature and Julie Anthony, accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Simone Young.[25] The Stock Horse riders still on the field then swapped their Olympic flags for Australian flags before riding out of the stadium.

Artistic SectionEdit

Deep Sea DreamingEdit

This segment celebrated Australia's affinity with the sea with the stadium floor being turned into a beach setting. The hero girl, Nikki Webster,[27] arrived in beachwear and basks in the light. She seemed to fall asleep on the beach and drift off into a dream. The performers represented the sea and the various aquatic fauna appear and move around the arena floor. The hero girl was then hoisted up in the air by overhead wires and swam with the sea creatures.[28] Other swimmers were also present, being coached (on a large screen) by Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence. This was a tribute to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

  • Segment Director & Choreographer: Meryl Tankard
  • Assistant Director & Choreographer: Steven McTaggart
  • Designer: Dan Potra
  • Costume Designers: Dan Potra and Meryl Tankard


The Awakening segment featured a 32-meter diameter cloth showing a Wandjina spirit - a large head that shows the eyes and nose, but with no mouth.

The Awakening segment celebrated Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, which was claimed at the time to date back over 60,000 years. A special welcome was made to countries competing at the Games. A Yolngu elder and songman, Djakapurra Munyarryun,[29][30] guided the girl through the indigenous ceremonies of connections to the land and the protocols for welcoming others to indigenous land. The segment featured Indigenous Australians from the Central Desert, the Numbulwar, Yirrkala, Ramingining and Manningrida peoples of Arnhem Land, Torres Strait Islanders, and the Koorie clan of NSW. The segment ended when the Wandjina-ancestral spirit appeared (in the form of a 32-metre diameter cloth in the style of rock portrait) roaring and flinging a lightning bolt to ignite a bushfire.[31][28]

  • Segment Directors: Stephen Page and Rhoda Roberts
  • Designer: Peter England
  • Costume Designer: Jennifer Irwin
  • Choreographers: Stephen Page, Matthew Doyle, Elma Kris and Peggy Misi

Fire and NatureEdit

The Nature segment

The Fire and Nature segment showcased the Australian outback, wildlife and flora. It began with various fire performers (jugglers, breathers) moving across the stadium floor, symbolising the advance of a bushfire.[28] In the aftermath, performers representing the flora stir as the land is replenished with water and life. The stadium floor is filled with performers dressed in costumes representing various flowers including Australia's distinctive wild flowers such as the Golden Wattle (Australia's national flower), the Waratah (State flower of NSW), the Sturt's Desert Pea, Water Lilies and Eucalypt flowers.[28] The fauna, which were represented by seven large paintings by Jeffrey Sammuels, were then revealed, depicting the indigenous animal life in Australia.[32] The flowers once more were illuminated before moving out of the stadium.[28]

Fire credits:

  • Segment Director: David Atkins
  • Choreographer: Jason Coleman
  • Costume Designers: Paula Ryan, Michael Wilkinson

Nature credits:

  • Segment Director: Peter Wilson
  • Designer: Eamon D'Arcy
  • Choreographer: Doug Jack
  • Charting Choreographer: Jason Olthoff
  • Artwork Graphic Design: Jeffrey Samuels

Tin SymphonyEdit

In the Tin Symphony segment, cases of the European settlement in Australia were shown, and the development of Australia into a rural and civic country.[28] The segment began with the arrival of Captain James Cook, with naturalist Joseph Banks and crew, with bicycles to represent his ship, HM Bark Endeavour, during Captain Cook's exploration of the Australian east coast. A caged fake rabbit was shown aboard the ship.[33] The performer acting as Captain Cook lit a firework mark the start of the segment.

Tin Symphony Part 1— The music, co-written and co-produced by Ian Cooper and John Frohlich, includes an Irish jig montaged with drums, bush sounds and voice.[34] A multitude of performers dress as the iconic Australian bushranger Ned Kelly (with costumes based on Sir Sidney Nolan's series of Ned Kelly paintings) then appear onto the stadium floor, with other symbolic items of the outback such as corrugated iron and storm water tanks present. A mechanical horse like vehicle was present which then changed into a wind mill. Cultural items such as woodcutting and whip cracking were showcased. Irish dancers present in this section danced on the corrugated iron sheets, with umbrellas made up to look like giant cogs and wheels to represent the industrial growth of Australia.[28]

Tin Symphony Part 2— The tempo changes as Australia's rural aspects were introduced. In the middle of the stadium floor, a shed was constructed from the corrugated iron sheets. Out of the shed comes a unique representation of sheep, an important livestock. The sheep were represented by performers in cardboard boxes, that move along with the music. Australian suburbia is then represented as the performers emerged from the cardboard boxes with simulations of Victa lawn mowers to form the Olympics Rings.[28] The giant mechanical horse then made another appearance, before the hero girl gave an apple to it. At the end of the segment, the mechanical horse neighed to signify the conclusion.

  • Segment Director: Nigel Jamieson
  • Designer: Dan Potra
  • Choreographers: Karen Johnson Mortimer, Doug Jack, Legs on the Wall
  • Charting Choreographer: Jason Olthoff

Arrivals and Under Southern SkiesEdit

The Arrivals segment of the ceremony celebrated Australia's multiculturalism and its migrant culture, with a float and costumes symbolising each continent.[28] First, migrants from the African continent, danced into the stadium wearing black costumes. They were followed by dancers in yellow symbolising the arrival of Asian migrants into Australia, led by two yellow Chinese Lion dancers. European migrants were introduced by the colour green, further adding to the growing party on the stadium floor. The music changed again and a splash of red symbolising the arrival of migrants from the Americas was introduced into the stadium. Finally, performers representing migrants from the various Pacific Islands, with an emphasis on New Zealand came into the stadium in vivid blue costumes. The five floats manoeuvred into position to represent their respective coloured rings of the Olympic flag. By the crescendo of the segment, four of the floats (Asia, America, Europe and the Pacific Islands) surround the African float as the performers from all the represented continents rushed out from the middle to form the Australian continent.

The performers stood with arms out reached towards the audience, forming the coastline of Australia and thus symbolising Australia's welcoming arms to people from all over the world. Then many children dressed in the Olympic colours flooded into the arena and formed a solid shape of Australia, as the performers from the sequence before left the performance floor. Webster then performed the song Under Southern Skies with five people representing each continent standing with her, as the children formed a large representation of the Southern Cross constellation with their lanterns.[28]


The Eternity segment showed thousands of tap dancers.

The next segment began with Adam Garcia standing on the central float in the middle of the stadium floor. He began his performance by tap dancing and inviting more performers onto the stadium. More dancers filed onto the stands where the audience was sitting who also joined in with performance. Several cherry picker cranes in the centre with the floats began to slowly rise up with the crescendo of the music. The dancers symbolised the workers building a new Australia for the future. The dancers in the stands rushed out onto the stadium floor to join their fellow dancers. Some of the dancers held square sheets of steel that they both danced on and held in their hands to reflect light out as they danced. By the finale of this segment, large steel frames rose from each float to form a tall structure. In the middle were the hero girl and the Aboriginal songman, who looked wondrously out into the audience, surveying the workers.[28] Then as the close of the presentation approached, the performers from the other segments all came out and joined in with those already dancing. A large representation of the Sydney Harbour Bridge composed of sparklers was set off in the middle of the stadium with the word "Eternity" shown in the middle of the bridge.[9]

This segment was inspired by the then popular theatrical show Tap Dogs, and the soon to be released movie, Bootmen. Peewee Ferris's remix of the music was played as the performers slowly moved their way out of the stadium.

  • Segment Director & Designer: Nigel Triffitt
  • Tap Choreographer: Dein Perry
  • Choreographer: Doug Jack Mandala
  • Airboard Choreographer: Jason Coleman
  • Bridge Graphic Design: Ken Done

Sydney 2000 Olympic BandEdit

The Olympic Band performs

A massed marching band of 2,000 musicians performed a melody of Australian and international classics, and previous Olympic themes. It included "Also Sprach Zarathustra", "Chariots of Fire", "Ode to Joy", "Bugler's Dream", "Waltzing Matilda", and John Williams "Olympic Fanfare & Theme". The band consisted of 1,000 Australian musicians, with the remaining 1,000 musicians being from other countries around the world.[35] The massed band was so large that six conductors were required for the segment. The band members wore Driza-Bone riding coats which had been especially modified for the band members.[36][37] The band was one of the few live sound creations of the night.

Marching bands have been a staple and part of the tradition in Summer Olympic Ceremonies throughout the 20th century. However, this segment was controversial in the lead up in the local media, over the fact that, when announced in 1999, three-quarters of the band were from overseas while ignoring Sydney based wind bands.[38] The organisers had to renegotiate the number of international performer invitations for this segment so that half the band was made up of Australian performers on the night. Birch always envisioned the band to be both larger than anyone had seen at an Olympic ceremony, and for an international band to welcome international athletes.[35] Reviews immediately after the ceremony stated that the band was so "skilled and entertaining in their fashion" that "it was hard to believe that their part was ever in doubt."[24][39] In contrast, Peter FitzSimons opined that the band was a non-sequitur compared to the rest of the Australiana pageantry, and was seen as an element of cocacolanisation by some in Australia.[24] Since 2000, marching and wind bands have not seen an major appearance at an Olympics ceremony, except for the Hellenic Naval Band during the entrance of the Presidents in the Athens ceremony, and an appearance from the Gunthorpe Colliery Band during the Pandemonium segment of the London ceremony.

Parade of NationsEdit

Once the Sydney 2000 Olympic Band made their introduction, they took their place in front of the ceremony stage, and volunteers came out to begin the Parade of Nations. Twenty eight of the larger nations entered under a music piece of their country played by the Marching Band (e.g. Land of Hope and Glory was played for Great Britain, Sakura Sakura was played for Japan, Siyahamba was played for South Africa and "Born in the USA" and The Stars and Stripes Forever was played for the United States), while smaller countries entered in with various Olympic Anthems, Percussion Cadences, and The Warriors as a nod to Australian wind band composer Percy Grainger.[40] As is Olympic tradition, Greece entered first in honour of its position as birthplace of the Olympics, and host nation Australia entered last.

As in the last Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the last Winter Olympics in Nagano, the countries entered in English alphabetical order. This was also to be seen during the next Olympics, in Salt Lake City.

A record of 199 nations entered the stadium with the exception of Afghanistan, a nation banned by the IOC in 1999 because of the extremist rule of the Taliban's oppression on women and its sports.[41][42] The parade of nations also featured a unified entrance by the athletes of the North and South Korea, holding a specially designed unification flag: a white background flag with a blue map of the Korean peninsula; however, the two teams competed separately.[43][7] Four athletes from East Timor marched directly in the opening ceremonies as Individual Olympic Athletes before the host nation. Without the existence of the National Olympic Committee, they were allowed to compete under the Olympic flag.[44]

Dare To DreamEdit

Veteran pop artists John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John[45] walked among the Olympic competitors and performed the theme song Dare to Dream, which was written especially for the occasion by award-winning songwriters Paul Begaud, Vanessa Corish and Wayne Tester. Begaud and Corish were regular songwriting collaborators both born and raised in Sydney.[46]

Opening AddressesEdit

After a brief fanfare by David Stanhope, the President of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG), Michael Knight, and the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch made the opening addresses. In Knight's address, he spoke to the athletes directly about Australians love for sport, that while in the parade "the crowd cheered loudest for the home team, as it will at the sporting competitions," that "there is room in our hearts to support all of you wherever you have come from. Australians love sport, and we admire outstanding skill and courage."[47] Samaranch gave a recognition of Indigenous Australians, by summarising the artistic section in these words: "I would like to express our respect to those who have made Australia what it is today, a great country, with a special tribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."[7][47]

The event was officially opened by Governor General Sir William Deane. This was the first occasion that a Summer Olympics held in a Commonwealth realm was not opened by the monarch or a member of the Royal Family, although it was the second overall, behind the 1988 Winter Olympics.[48] Prime Minister John Howard had originally planned to open the games himself, with the agreement of the organising committee and the IOC. However, in November 1999 he changed his mind and advised the IOC that Deane would be opening the games. Howard said this was due to "a concern that my opening the Olympic Games would become a party political issue."[49][50]

Olympic FlagEdit

19-year-old pop star Vanessa Amorosi sang Heroes Live Forever to signify the legacy left by sports stars all over the world.[45][23] The song was composed by John Gillard and Trevor White.

During the song, an enormous white flag the size of the stadium field was passed over the audience on the southern stand and was brought down over the crowd by volunteers. Whilst this happened, images of past sports legends were displayed on the flag. When the flag reached the athletes, a Dove of Peace was projected, followed by the Olympic Rings.[23] This section was a partial recreation of a scene at the 1992 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, where a large Olympic flag covered the athletes.[51]

The Olympic Flag was then carried around the arena by eight former Australian Olympic champions: Bill Roycroft, Murray Rose, Liane Tooth, Gillian Rolton, Marjorie Jackson, Lorraine Crapp, Michael Wenden and Nick Green. It was then handed over to eight Australia's Federation Guard members, who carried and raised the flag. During the raising of the Olympic flag, the Olympic Hymn was sung in Greek by the Millennium Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, signifying the large Greek population of Australia.

The Olympic Oaths were taken by then captain of the Australian Women's Hockey Team Rechelle Hawkes on behalf of the athletes,[52] and by Australian Water Polo Referee Peter Kerr on behalf of the officials.[53]

The FlameEdit

The Olympic Flame arriving at its final resting place

For the first time in recent Olympic history, the opening ceremony concluded with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Tina Arena, the Sydney Children's Choir and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performed The Flame,[45] while showing archive footage of some highlights of the torch relay on the large screens, then cutting to live footage outside the stadium of Australian Olympic Gold Medalist Herb Elliott with the torch.

Then, celebrating 100 years of women's participation in the Olympics,[16] former Australian women Olympic champions and medalists: Betty Cuthbert and Raelene Boyle,[23] Dawn Fraser,[54] Shirley Strickland de la Hunty,[54] Shane Gould[23] and Debbie Flintoff-King[54] brought the torch through the stadium, before handing it over to Cathy Freeman.[55] Freeman then climbed a long set of stairs towards a circular pool of water. She walked into the middle of the water and ignited the cauldron around her feet in a ring of fire. The cauldron then rose out from the water, above Freeman's head, and then was transported up a long waterfall, where it finally rested on a tall silver pedestal above the stadium.[7][16]

The planned climax to the ceremony was delayed by a technical glitch of a malfunctioned limit switch, which also severed the communications cable to override the program.[56] This meant that the Olympic flame was suspended in mid-air for about four minutes, rather than immediately rising up the waterfall to the top of the stadium. In interviews after the ceremony, the organizers stated that when the cause of the problem was discovered, engineers overrode the program and the cauldron continued its course, and the ceremony concluded with a fireworks display.[8][56] 20-years later, some engineers stated it was fixed through a backup radio signal to the cauldron.[57][58] Moreover, the gas bottles for the cauldron were close to empty before it was attached to a main gas line, and the backup flames were missing.[56]

  • Concept: Ric Birch, Michael Scott-Mitchell
  • Segment Director: Richard Wherrett
  • Cauldron Designer: Michael Scott-Mitchell


The Games Of The XXVII Olympiad 2000: Music from the Opening Ceremony
Compilation album by
Various Artists
Released18 September 2000
RecordedSummer 1999
GenreClassical, electronic, folk, world, country, funk/soul, pop, rock
LabelSony Music BMG
ProducerSOCOG, Ross Fraser

The program celebrated a wide collection of exclusively Australian artists and composers from many different backgrounds. There was a focus on contemporary classical composers, such as Elena Kats-Chernin and Chong Lim, film composers such as Bruce Rowland and David Hirschfelder, Jazz artists such as James Morrison, Indigenous songlines arranged by David Page, House music from Peewee Ferris and pop from John Foreman, Paul Begaud, John Gillard, Trevor White, Vanessa Corish & Wayne Tester.[2][59] The opening piece to the artistic section, Deep Sea Dreaming, is still regularly performed by Kats-Chernin and by treble choirs in Australia.[60]

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra was the orchestra at the ceremony[2] and performed most of the works in the program, although some pieces performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was noted in the program and CD.[59] It came to light in August 2008 that the Sydney Symphony mimed its performance during the opening ceremony to tracks prerecorded by both orchestras, after an incident at the 2008 Opening Ceremony revealed that a girl lip-synched a song and used another girl's voice.[10] All performances were recorded in either the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall or Studio 301, Sydney.[59] All voice artists performed live.

The Australian bush song Waltzing Matilda became a musical motif as performed as a sing-a-long during the Prelude, quoted in Morrison's Fanfare and performed by the Sydney 2000 Band.[23]

The Flame was released as a single two weeks before the performance.

The soundtrack The Games of the XXVII Olympiad: Official Music from the Opening Ceremony was released on 18 September. The music album peaked at number 1 on the ARIA Charts and was certified 2x platinum in Australia.[61] It was nominated at the 2001 ARIA Awards for Best Original Soundtrack Album.[62]

Music which was not on the official soundtrack included a remix of Eternity by Peewee Ferris which was played at the end of the Artistic section, the Marching Band arrangements of Olympic themes by Ken Dye,[63] and an excerpt from the orchestral work The Warriors: Music to an Imaginary Ballet by Percy Grainger, which was played during the rising of the cauldron.[64]

1."The Flame"John ForemanTina Arena, Sydney Children's Choir & the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra3:31
2."Dare to Dream"Paul Begaud, Vanessa Corish & Wayne TesterJohn Farnham & Olivia Newton-John5:16
3."Heroes Live Forever"John Gillard & Trevor WhiteVanessa Amorosi 
4."Under Southern Skies"Damien Halloran & Maria MillwardNikki Webster & Sing 2001 Choir3:23
5."Countdown Fanfare"Richard MillsSydney Symphony Orchestra1:07
6."The Man from Snowy River — Olympic Version"Bruce RowlandSydney Symphony Orchestra3:29
7."Fanfare"James MorrisonJames Morrison & Swing City1:34
8."Advance Australia Fair"Peter Dodds McCormick, Arranged by David Stanhope[65][66]Human Nature, Julie Anthony, James Morrison, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney University Musical Society & Sing 2001 Choir 
9."Deep Sea Dreaming"Elena Kats-CherninSydney Children's Choir & the Sydney Symphony Orchestra4:07
10."Awakening"Djakapurra Munyarryun, David Page, Stephen Francis, Peggy Misi, Elma Kris, Matthew Doyle, & Don NindihirribalaDjakapurra Munyarryun, Don Nindihirribala, David Page with Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara & Yankunytjatjara Women & Doonooch Dance Co 
11."Fire"Michael AskillMichael Askill & Fire Percussion 
12."Nature"Chong Lim[66]Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Chorale & National Boys Choir of Australia 
13."Tin"Ian Cooper, John Frohlich, John Gillard & Trevor White, Paul GrabowskyIan Cooper, John Frolich, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & National Boys Choir8:21
14."Arrivals"Pee Wee FerrisPee Wee Ferris5:16
15."Eternity"David HirschfelderDavid Hirschfelder6:23
16."Games 2000 Fanfare"David StanhopeSydney Symphony Orchestra0:37
17."The Olympic Hymn"Spyridon Samaras & Kostis PalamasThe Millenium Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia & The Sydney Symphony Orchestra2:55
18."Tibi Omnes from the Berlioz Te Deum"Hector BerliozSydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney University Musical Society, Sing 2001 Choir & Sydney Children's Choir8:20
Chart (2000) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[67] 1 15[61]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[61] 2× Platinum 140,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


The ceremony was given rave reviews by the local media. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch thought it was a successful opening ceremony, giving it an 10-out-of-10.[68][69] The Sydney Morning Herald said "It was daring. It was dignified. It was witty. It was breathtaking in its large-scale theatricality."[70] Journalist Peter FitzSimons said that the atmosphere at the stadium that night was electric and said of the Artistic section that "it was a colourful and colossal kaleidoscope on overdrive, with Australia's cultural buttons being played like piano keys in the hands of a master."[24] The Sunday Telegraph described it as a "truly great moment" in Australian history, going on to say that about the Awakening segment that it was "Australia's global declaration that it acknowledged its indigenous people and cared about their future, while feeling considerable regret – yes even sorrow – about the past." John Lombard from ABC News pointed out that having Cathy Freeman be the athlete to light the cauldron was a coup, as the extra symbolism of many white, Australian born women passing the torch to an Aboriginal athlete "hit all the right buttons".[69]

Foreign press reaction was also very positive; The New York Times also noted the themes of reconciliation given the political climate.[7] The London Daily Express's Shekhar Bhatia described Webster as "the toast of the town and a global sensation".[71] London's Daily Telegraph wrote that the "four-hour spectacle must be classified an unqualified success."[71] The only negative review reported at the time was from The Washington Post, where Sally Jenkins described the ceremony as traditional, expensive and too long; as something that "a roving band of wild dogs couldn't cure."[71] She did go on to say that the lighting of the caldron was "almost worth the price of admission" due to its symbolism of the nation's reconciliation.[72]


A major theme in this ceremony was of reconciliation between Australia and the Australian Indigenous nations. In the years leading up to the Olympics, there was much discussion over what reconciliation would look like and was becoming a central social and political issue.[7] In the Media Guide, the author notes that 4 months earlier, 250,000 Australians of all backgrounds walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge as support for recognition of past wrongs towards the First Nations peoples.[73] The Awakening segment broke new ground by showing Indigenous dance and music in its own context for over 11 minutes and in a deep and significant way. In response, similar segments were developed for the 2006 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, and the artistic section of the 2018 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony began with the theme of Australian history from an Indigenous point of view.[74]

In November 2000, the television footage of Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron was declared "the sporting image of the year" and won a "Golden Podum" by Sportel, a major international sports television convention held annually in Monaco.[75] At the first Helpmann Awards the ceremony was awarded Best Special Event/Performance, Best Sound Design, and Best Costume Design for the Deep Sea Dreaming segment, and Best Scenic Design for the Awakening segment.[76]

The Arts Unit of NSW Education played an important role in providing children and teenagers across NSW to perform at Olympic events. The Sydney 2000 Olympic Band continues as a secondary public school ensemble in New South Wales. Now named the NSW Public Schools Millennium Marching Band, the band performs at large-scale and televised events in both Australia and overseas. This smaller ensemble (consisting of around 100 members) travelled to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics held in China that year, and performed in the United States in 2015 in San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.[77][78] The Sing 2001 choir was a NSW schools state choir that continued to perform after the Olympics, and at major events in 2001 celebrating the Centenary of Federation.[79]

Television coverageEdit

Around 3.7 billion viewers from 220 countries watched the ceremony on TV.[4] Asian viewership was double compared to the opening ceremony in Atlanta.[80]

  • Host Broadcaster: Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organisation (SOBO) – Director Peter Faiman
  •   AustraliaSeven Network provided Australia's live broadcast of the Opening Ceremony which began at 6:30pm AEDT with half an hour of preparations live at the stadium.[22] Hosts and commentators included Bruce McAvaney, Gary Wilkinson and Sandy Roberts. Added narration and commentary for the Indigenous segment "Awakening" was Wajarri actor and TV personality Ernie Dingo.[55] There was one short ad-break was during the Marching Band segment. AC Nielsen reported a peak audience of over 10.4 million viewers not counting those watching from big screen sites.[81]
  •   New ZealandTVNZ viewers experienced a technical problem with their satellite feed during the "Prelude" and "Welcome" segments and therefore did not see the Countdown live. Moreover, the 1.3 million audience watched the ceremony on a short tape-delay so to allow for cuts to commercial breaks. This meant that the lighting of the cauldron was shown 40 minutes after the event happened.[82]
  •   United KingdomBBC Television covered the ceremony from 9am BST. Steve Rider and Sue Barker hosted and Barry Davies was the commentator for the ceremony.[83] 4 million watched the ceremony, which was a 53% share in the UK.[84]
  •   United StatesNBC cut parts of the Artistic section of the ceremony, including Morrison's fanfare, the Nature segment and the second half of the Tin Symphony segment out of its broadcast. As general practice in the United States, NBC tape-delayed the ceremonies so it would air in primetime in the United States, as live programming would be aired during the early morning. AC Nielsen reported a peak audience of over 27.2 million viewers.[85]

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit