"The winner is Sydney" were the words said by International Olympic Committee President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, when announcing that Sydney had won the right to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000. We were all super excited that the Olympic Games would once again be held in Australia.
Time certainly flies, and tomorrow will mark 20 years since the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. We are all being reminded what a spectacular event it was, not to mention the boost it was for the Australian economy.
Olympic Games are expensive to host. Sydney spent over $6 billion, with the net cost to the public purse being around $2.1 billion. It is the prestige of hosting the event that we aspire to and rarely does the economic stimulus promised materialise.
Australia invested a lot of money in preparing its athletes for the event, and it paid off. We finished fourth on the Olympic medal tally, from the eighty nations who won at least one medal. Not surprising really for a country that has sport as part of its culture and psyche.
In the end, the event was a huge success, Juan Antonio Samaranch said so at the closing ceremony:
"I am proud and happy to proclaim that you have presented to the world the best Olympic Games ever."
Twenty years later, the winner is still Sydney.