The volunteer culture created by the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 has continued to thrive at sporting and charity events across Australia, largely through the efforts of the Spirit of Sydney movement. Originally named the Sydney Olympic Volunteer Social Club, this group of Games volunteers evolved into the Spirit of Sydney group, which still exists today. Their primary mandate is “celebrating the spirit of friendship from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games”.
The Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) recruited a “Games Force” of more than 40,000 volunteers, each of whom had their names subsequently preserved on volunteer poles in Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
Research conducted a decade on from the Games found that Sydney 2000 had been particularly successful at igniting a volunteer culture in Australia, with the experience either initiating or rekindling a passion for volunteering among the majority of the “Games Force”.
Surveys have found that many have gone on to work at subsequent sporting events, such as the Melbourne (2006) and Gold Coast (2018) Commonwealth Games, and also for charitable causes such as breast cancer awareness, hospitals, hospices and community events, as well as organisations including the National Heart Foundation of Australia.
The Spirit of Sydney group has played a major role in preserving this culture, acting as a network to maintain friendships fostered at the Games through regular reunions, and also by using Olympic memorabilia, stories and expertise to inspire younger generations to become active volunteers themselves at future Olympic Games.
This has helped ensure that Sydney’s Olympic spirit continues to be celebrated by the population, particularly at events such as the 10th Olympic anniversary. The anniversary celebrations attracted more than 18 million people to the city, with symbolic images from the Games, such as Cathy Freeman winning 400m gold, projected throughout Sydney over a two-week period.