Addressing the inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous populations, and encouraging the participation of indigenous people, were key objectives for the Olympic Games Sydney 2000.
In the months leading up to the Games, the city hosted a series of historic National Reconciliation efforts. Most notably, 250,000 people marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a show of support for and recognition of the plight of indigenous Australians, while the word “Sorry” was repeatedly written in the sky above two of Sydney’s most recognisable landmarks, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman was chosen as the face of Sydney 2000, and her lighting of the Olympic cauldron was broadcast to a global television audience of 3.7 billion in 220 countries, a record at the time for a sporting event.
While the ongoing inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Australia continues to be highlighted, the community spirit created during Sydney 2000 has left a considerable social and political legacy. In 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised to Australia’s “Stolen Generations”, while the country now holds more than 130 annual Aboriginal arts and culture festivals, most of which were introduced in the aftermath of Sydney 2000. The most notable of these is the Yabun Festival, which evolved from the “Aboriginal Embassy” created during the Olympic Games to draw attention to the indigenous cause. The festival attracts 26,000 people annually.