- 29 Apr 2015
Olympic past, present and future, on display at Sydney Olympic Park
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today visited the Sydney Olympic Park, which is now a thriving commercial, residential and sporting precinct.
It was President Bach’s first visit to Sydney since becoming IOC President in September 2013. He returned to the Olympic Stadium, where he was able to relive the moment when Cathy Freeman famously won the gold medal in the 400 metres at the Olympic Games in 2000. As he entered the Stadium, a replay of that final was played on the screens, and the commentary brought back the strong emotions of all those who were present at the time.
The IOC President was visiting the Park for the first time since the Games to see the tremendous legacy that remains. He was joined on the tour by the Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird, New South Wales Sports Minister, Stuart Ayres, Chair of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Michael Knight, and many of those responsible for organising the Games.
The Olympic Stadium itself now hosts around 50 events attracting on average one million people each year. As well as creating jobs, the Park itself also hosts many sporting events. With more than 13 million visitors every year, the Park generates income of more than AUD 5 billion every year for the local economy.
After visiting the Olympic Stadium, the President toured the other venues in the Park as well as the Olympic Village, which has now been turned into residential housing. He was also able to pay tribute at the memorial for those killed in the massacre at the Olympic Games Munich 1972. He said that the memorial “reminds us all of the extremes of what the Olympic Games can mean and signify, and can show the most glorious and the most terrible moments”.
Later the President visited the Olympic cauldron where Cathy Freeman famously lit the flame at the Opening Ceremony in 2000. The President highlighted the significance of those Games for Australia: “Cathy Freeman not only won, but she also represented the reconciliation of Australians with indigenous people.”
Later, speaking to young fencers, he said that the Olympic Park, with its great memories, its great legacies and its new young athletes, represented “the past, the present and the future of Australia”.
Sydney’s Green Games strategy saw the successful remediation and restoration of approximately 160 hectares of badly degraded land, and the creation of one of the largest urban parklands in Australia (425 hectares). This included conservation and enhancement of remnant wetlands and forest, and native flora and fauna, including the endangered green and golden bell frog.
The venues were also designed with a strong focus on energy and water conservation, sustainable materials selection, pollution control, and waste management and minimisation. This included the establishment of Australia’s first large-scale urban water recycling system, which saves approximately 850 million litres of drinking water each year, and the extensive use of renewable energy across Sydney Olympic Park.