Closing Ceremony. (Sydney 2000) by whitecheese


									Sydney 2000
                                                                     Sydney 2000

                               CLOSING CEREMONY
        rash, exuberant, fun and                                                   personalities who filled the stadium

                                                    by Morley Myers*
        completely Australian! The                                                 with excitement on this last Sunday
        closing ceremony of the                                                    night of the Games.
Games of the XXVII Olympiad in                                                     Golfing great Greg Norman, nick-
Sydney on 1 October reflected the                                                  named the ‘Great White Shark’,
worldwide vision of life Down Under.                                               stood aboard a replica of his epony-
The end of 16 days of competition                                                  mous self, driving off the strangest
between over 11,000 of the world’s                                                 tee he had ever encountered. He was
best athletes was also tinged with the                                             followed by a flood of other Australian
sadness of more than 110,000 peo-                                                  icons on the spectacular floats, which
ple in the Olympic Stadium as they                                                 entered the arena. International
seemed to groan in unison when the       countries and on giant screens            model Elle ‘The Body’ McPherson,
flame died.                              across Australia,                         film star Paul ‘Crocodile Dundee’
The words of IOC President, Juan         agreed wholeheartedly with his            Hogan and former TV soap opera
Antonio Samaranch, that Sydney had       words. This was the President’s last      actress turned singer Kylie Minogue
given the world the “Best Olympic        Olympic Games before he retires next      were each welcomed with yet
Games, ever” had been greeted by         year and he could not have wished         another roar of approval from the
resounding cheers. Commentators          for a finer ceremonial occasion.          crowd.
relaying the ceremony to a television    The international face of Australia was   In the centre of the arena were the
audience of billions in a record 220     portrayed in the music, dance and         most important people of the Games

                                               Fireworks over the city of Sydney.

- the athletes. Representatives of 199   flagbearers from each competing                 Sydney Frank Sartor, of the Olympic
National Olympic Committees - those      country.                                        flag to Athens, organizers of the next
with medals and those who made           President Samaranch paid tribute to             Games of the Olympiad in 2004, was
major contributions to the agony and     the Games 47,000 volunteers, to                 completed with its acceptance by the
the ecstasy of the Games- were           SOCOG for an impressive lesson in               Mayor of Athens, Dimitris
ready to party and joined in the         organizational ability and to the peo-          Avramopolos. High priestesses from
celebrations with enthusiasm. Their      ple of Australia. He made particular            the historical site of Olympia in
cameras were turned from rivals, who     mention of the contribution by the              Greece brought a hush to the packed
had become friends, to each other        native Aboriginal population and that           Stadium as they elegantly performed
and then to the next spectacular         of the Islanders from Torres Straits.           ancient rituals to welcome the Games
entry in the parade.                     The Olympic Order in gold was pre-              back to its roots.
Stilt walkers in glittering costumes     sented to SOCOG president Michael               The appearance of a F1-11 fighter plane
were competing with the best of          Knight and Australian Olympic                   out of the night heralded the dousing of
Sydney’s famous drag artists who         Committee president, John Coates.               the Olympic flame but as a sigh and
escorted the bus, star of the interna-   In an innovative move, the Olympic              groan was heard from the crowd, the
tionally acclaimed movie ‘Priscilla,     Cup was presented for the first time            Australian organizers made it clear this
Queen of the Desert’.                    to the people of Sydney for their               may be the end of the ceremony but it
All this followed the moving formality   enthusiastic and unpartisan support             was time for the party to begin.
of the closing proceedings that began    of athletes from all countries.                 Within seconds the music began,
with the entry into the Stadium of the   The formal handover by the Mayor of             dancers and floats rolled into the

                             Sydney 2000

arena in a cacophony of colour and                                                          song which, for most foreigners, rep-
sound. John Paul Young sang ‘Love                                                           resents Australia - Waltzing Matilda.
is in the Air’ as over 1,000 dancers                                                        As the music died, so the final show
and a dozen giant kewpie dolls                                                              of the night began. Sydney, already
moved around him. Aboriginal rocker                                                         renowned for its Millennium eve dis-
Yotha Yindi and his supporting band                                                         play, made sure the final ‘showdown’
were given a particularly loud wel-                                                         was just as good with a spectacular
come from the crowd.                                                                        A$3 million firework display.
There were inflatable Mombasses -                                                           Boats along the Parramatta River set
modernist images of Australia - with a                                                      off the display. Hundreds of thou-
kangaroo holding a harbour bridge in                                                        sands of Sydney residents and visi-
one hand and a fighter plane in the                                                         tors poured on to the streets as the
other, A massive barbecue heralded                                                          sky blazed with gold and silver.
Jimmy Barnes who sang from the top                                                          Fireworks went off from the tops of
of a giant pineapple ring.                                                                  buildings, around and behind the
Pop group Midnight Oil were later                                                           spectacular Harbour Bridge and just
joined by Men at Work and Savage                                                            as each burst seemed to herald the
Garden. Music from a young country                                                          end, yet another showered into the
                                            The actor Paul ‘Crocodile Dundee’ Hogan.
for a young generation.                                                                     night from points around the Bay.
The audience, who had paid for                                                              The finale came with the ‘explosion’
seats, chose not to sit in them but                                                         of the five Olympic rings which had
were on their feet dancing along with      Another Australian icon, folk singer             become part of the view of the
the performers, Among the athletes,        Slim Dusty, proved his songs and style           Harbour Bridge in the run-up to what
informal ‘conga’ lines developed and       transcended generations. He was                  were, as the IOC President said: “The
it became impossible to distinguish        joined by over 100,000 voices - and              Best Olympic Games ever”.
those from one country or another as       no doubt more at home in front of tele-
they spread out and danced.                vision sets all over the world - in the          *Freelance journalist.

     The Mayor of Sydney Frank Sartor...                                                         ... and the Mayor of Athens Dimitris
                                                                                               Avramopoulos, carrying the Olympic flag.

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