Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony

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Location  Sydney, Australia
Filmed by  Seven Network and SOBO
2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony
Date  19:00, 15 September 2000 (AEDST, UTC+11) (2000-09-15T19:00AEDST, UTC+11)

The opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympic games took place on Friday 15 September in Stadium Australia. 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. For Sydney 2000, the Games were formally opened by Governor-General Sir William Deane. The ceremony was described by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch as the most beautiful ceremony the world has ever seen. It also represented several highlights of Australian culture and history, from sea creatures and flora/fauna to lawn mowers and other Australian cultural icons. The Opening Ceremony had a cast of 12,687 people who took part in the ceremony. Consistent with normal major production management, the music was pre-recorded under studio conditions to ensure its quality.



Hosted by Channel Seven's Sports Commentator David Fordham and Channel Seven's newsreader Chris Bath, while seven months pregnant with her first child, live on stage in the stadium. Featured various performances, including "Waltzing Matilda" with John Williamson.


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. Steve Jefferys then cracked his stockwhip and a further 120 riders and their Stock Horses entered the Stadium and performed intricate steps, including forming the five Olympic Rings, to the music of Bruce Rowland who composed a special Olympics version of the main theme which he had composed for the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River. A giant banner, painted by Sydney artist Ken Done, said "G'Day" to the world.

  • Segment Director: Ignatius Jones
  • Costume Designer: Kristian Fredrikson
  • Graphic Designer: Ken Done Bridge
  • Anthem

    The Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, was sung by both Human Nature and Julie Anthony, accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of George Ellis. This took place after the arrival of the Governor-General Sir William Deane, The Prime Minister John Howard and the President of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch.

  • Segment Director: Ignatius Jones
  • Costume Designer: Kristian Fredrikson - Fanfare
  • Deep Sea Dreaming

    This segment celebrates Australia's affinity with the sea with the stadium floor being turned into a beach setting. Nikki Webster arrives in beachwear and bask in the light. She seemed to fall asleep on the beach and drifts off into a dream. The performers represented the sea and the various aquatic fauna appear and move around the arena floor. This was a tribute to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Nikki Webster was then hoisted up in the air by over head wires and swam with the sea creatures. Other swimmers were also present, being coached (on a large screen) by Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence. Elena Kats-Chernin composed the music for this section which was performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Children's Choir, conducted by Simone Young.

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

    The awakening segment celebrated Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, which date back thousands of years. A special welcome was made to countries competing at the Games. An Yolngu elder and songman, Djakapurra Munyarryun, guided Nikki Webster through the segment. Narration for the segment was by Wajarri actor and TV personality Ernie Dingo.

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

    The 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. 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 N.S.W), the Sturt's Desert Pea, Water Lilies and Eucalypt flowers. The fauna, which were represented by 7 large paintings by Jeffrey Sammuels, were then revealed, depicting the indigenous animal life in Australia. The dream like music heard during this sequence was composed and conducted by Australian composer, Chong Lim. The flowers once more were illuminated before moving out of the stadium.

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

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

    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. This segment began with the arrival of Captain James Cook and crew, with bicycles to represent his ship, HM Bark Endeavour, during Captain Cook's exploration of the Australian east coast. The performer acting as Captain Cook lit a firework to start the segment. A caged fake rabbit was shown aboard the ship.

    Tin Symphony Part 1—–This rollicking reel, co-written and co-produced by Ian Cooper and John Frohlich ©, includes an Irish jig montaged with drums, bush sounds and voice. A multitude of performers dress as the iconic Australian bushranger Ned Kelly (with costumes based 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. 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. The giant mechanical horse then made another appearance, before Nikki Webster, gives an apple to it. The mechanical horse neighs to signify the end of the segment.

  • Segment Director: Nigel Jamieson
  • Designer: Dan Potra
  • Choreographers: Karen Johnson Mortimer, Doug Jack, Legs on the Wall
  • Charting Choreographer: Jason Olthoff
  • Tin Symphony Part 1 Co-written and co-produced by Ian Cooper & John Frohlich © Baritone Vocals – Dallas Watts, Composed By Mixed By, Engineer, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Percussion, Vocals – John Frohlich Composed By, Mixed By, Engineer, Violin, Viola, Double Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals – Ian Cooper Guitar – David Blenkhorn Soprano Vocals – Helena Sindelar Tin Whistle – Glenn Henrich


    The Arrivals segment of the ceremony celebrated Australia's multiculturalism aspects introducing each continent with a float and costumes symbolising each continent. Music composed by Peewee Ferris. The segment started with the African continent and its representatives, dancing into the stadium wearing Black costumes. Then a splash of Yellow entailed the arrival of the Asian immigrants into Australia, led by two yellow Chinese Lion dancers. Europe was introduced by the colour Green, further adding to the growing party on the stadium floor. Then another change of music and a splash of Red symbolising the arrival of people from the Americas. Finally, the people from the various Pacific Islands, with an emphasis on New Zealand came into the stadium in vivid Blue costumes. The five floats maneuvered into position to represent their respective coloured rings. 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 Australia continent. The performers stood with arms out reached towards the audience, forming the coast line of Australia and thus symbolising Australia's welcoming arms to people from all over the world. Then many children dressed in the Olympic colours flood into the arena and form a solid shape of Australia, as the performers from the sequence before leave the performance floor. Nikki Webster then performed the song "Under Southern Skies" with 5 people representing each continent standing with her, as the children formed a large representation of the Southern Cross constellation with their lanterns.

  • Segment Director: Lex Marinos
  • Designer: Eamon D'Arcy
  • Costume Designers: Jenny Kee, Lisa Ho, Norma Moriceau, Peter Morrissey
  • Choreographer: Jason Coleman
  • A New Era and Eternity

    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 Nikki Webster and the aboriginal elder, who looked wondrously out into the audience, surveying the workers. Then as the close of the presentation comes near, the performers from the other segments all come out and join in with the dancers already dancing.

    A large representation of the Sydney Harbour Bridge composed of sparklers is set off in the middle of the stadium with the word "Eternity" shown in the middle of the bridge.

  • 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 Band

    A massed Millennium Marching Band of 2000 musicians performed both Australian and international classics. The band consisted of 1000 Australian musicians, with the remaining 1000 musicians being from other countries around the world. 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. The band was the only live sound creator of the night; all other sounds, including the tap dancers' taps, were pre-recorded. The Millennium Marching 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 in 2008 for the Olympic Games held in China that year, and performed in the United States in 2015 in San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.

    Parade of Nations

    Once the Sydney 2000 Olympic Band made their grand introduction, the Parade of Nations began. A record 199 nations entered the stadium, the only missing IOC member being Afghanistan (which was suspended due to the Taliban regime's prohibition against practicing any kind of sports). Most remarkable was the entering of North and South Korea as one team, using a specially designed unification flag: a white background flag with a blue map of the Korean Peninsula; however, the two teams competed separately. Four athletes from East Timor also marched in the parade of nations. Although the country-to-be had no National Olympic Committee then, they were allowed to compete under the Olympic Flag. Every nation entered under a music piece played by the 2000 Olympic Marching Band. As is Olympic tradition, Greece entered first in honor of its position as birthplace of the Olympic Games, 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 would also be seen during the next Olympics, in Salt Lake City, as well.

    Dare To Dream

    John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John walked among the Olympic competitors and sang the 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 are Australian natives, born and raised in Sydney.

    Opening Addresses

    The President of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Organising Committee (SOCOG), Michael Knight, and the President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch made the opening addresses. 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.

    Heroes Live Forever

    An enormous white sheet was produced on the lower audience stand and was brought down over the crowd by workers. Whilst this happened, images of past sports legends were displayed on the sheet, and then a Dove of Peace and the Olympic Rings, for everyone in the stadium to see, and Vanessa Amorosi sang the song "Heroes Live Forever" to signify the legacy left by sports stars all over the world.

    The Olympic Flag

    The Olympic Flag was 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. 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.

    The Flame

    The opening ceremony concluded with the lighting of the Olympic Flame. Tina Arena and the Sydney Children's Choir performed The Flame before former Australian Olympic champion Herb Elliott brought the Olympic Flame into the stadium. Then, celebrating 100 years of women's participation in the Olympic Games, former Australian women Olympic champions and medalists: Betty Cuthbert and Raelene Boyle, Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland de la Hunty, Shane Gould and Debbie Flintoff-King brought the torch through the stadium, handing it over to Cathy Freeman. 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 reached its final resting place, high above the stadium. The planned spectacular climax to the ceremony was delayed by the technical glitch of a computer switch that malfunctioned, causing the sequence to shut down by giving a false reading. 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. When the cause of the problem was discovered, the program was overridden and the cauldron continued its course, and the ceremony concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

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

    It came to light during August 2008 that the Sydney Symphony mimed its performance during the opening ceremony to tracks prerecorded by the Sydney Symphony and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. This came about after an incident at the 2008 Opening Ceremony revealed that a girl lip-synched a song and used another girl's voice.

    General information

  • Ceremony credits include executive producer of the opening ceremony, Ric Birch. The stadium's English-language announcer for the Opening Ceremony was Australian actor John Stanton.
  • The wife of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC President, was seriously ill and was not able to accompany her husband to the Olympics (she died the following day, from cancer). Therefore, Samaranch invited former Australian Olympic Champion swimmer, Dawn Fraser, to accompany him at the ceremony. Dawn Fraser explained some of the cultural references in the display section to him.
  • The young girl singer, who featured throughout much of the early part of the opening ceremony, was Nikki Webster. Other musical performers taking part during the opening ceremony were Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham (who sang the duet "Dare to Dream" while walking among the athletes), Vanessa Amorosi (who sang "Heroes Live Forever" while a huge sheet was lowered down to cover the athletes - with sporting images and the image of a white dove of peace then being displayed on the cloth) and Tina Arena (who sang "The Flame").
  • Television coverage

  • Seven Network: Australia - Seven Network Australia's live and exclusive broadcast of the Opening Ceremony began at 6.30pm (AEDST) with half an hour of preparations live at the stadium. The official countdown concluded at exactly 7.00pm. Hosts and commentators included Bruce McAvaney, Gary Wilkinson and Sandy Roberts. The commentator for the Indigenous segment "Awakening" was Australian Indigenous actor and TV personality Ernie Dingo. The only cut to an ad-break was during the Marching Band segment.
  • NBC: United States - NBC cut the Nature segment and the second half of the Tin Symphony segment out of its broadcast, plus the James Morrison portion of the Anthem segment. As general practice in the United States, NBC tape-delayed the ceremony as well as the closing ceremony so it would air in primetime in the United States. The ceremonies and many key events would otherwise air during the middle of the night when almost everybody was asleep.
  • TVNZ: New Zealand - TVNZ viewers experienced a technical problem with their satellite feed during the "Prelude" and "Welcome" segments and therefore did not see the Countdown live.
  • BBC: United Kingdom - BBC Television covered the ceremony from 9am BST. BBC1 showed the coverage until 1.00 when the coverage moved to BBC2 due to the overrun coverage. Steve Rider and Sue Barker hosted and Barry Davies was the commentator for the ceremony.
  • Around 3.6 billion viewers watched the opening ceremony on TV, with a further 2.4 billion watching the closing ceremony.
  • References

    2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony Wikipedia

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