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Australia in the 2000s

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

The 2000 summer Olympics were held in Sydney, costing more than $6.6 billion. The Games involved 199 nations, more than 10,000 athletes and 300 events across 28 sports. There was an official estimation of 46,967 volunteers who helped at Olympic venues and throughout the city of Sydney to ensure the event passed harmoniously.

The opening ceremony, held on 15 September, was a significant cultural event. The ceremony drew on Australia's pastoral heritage, using Sidney Nolan's rural and bush paintings, while hundreds of tap-dancers evoked the construction industry. The ceremony also featured 200 Indigenous Australian women dancing to represent the heart of the continent, while other components emphasised the coastal-dwelling nature of most of Australia's population. Performers included Nikki Webster, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Vanessa Amorosi and Tina Arena. The Indigenous athlete Cathy Freeman lit the flame of the Olympic Torch.

Australia achieved its best ever result on the medals' table with 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze.

A snapshot of 2008

  • January
    • The United Nations General Assembly chose 2008 to be the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth.

  • February
    • An official apology by the new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to the Stolen Generations was made the first order of business of the new federal parliament.

  • June
    • Australia ended its combat operations in Iraq, withdrawing approximately 550 troops from the region.

  • July
    • World Youth Day (WYD), the largest youth event in the world, attracted 223,000 pilgrims to the event held in Sydney.

  • September
    • The Global Financial Crisis began having a serious effect on the Australian economy.
    • Quentin Bryce was sworn in as the first female governor-general of Australia.


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