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John Coates - Sydney 2000 anniversary

13 September 2015

In April this year we took the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, on a tour of Sydney Olympic Park (SOP).

He has travelled to over 100 countries since he was elected IOC President in 2013 and he was blown away by what he saw on this visit.

SOP is a thriving business and residential community in amongst world class stadia hosting international events.

SOP is as good as you will see anywhere in the world, a great and lasting legacy of which all Australians should be proud.

Some predicted it would be a “white elephant”, but fifteen years on our Park is now high on a pedestal, an ornament, that other host cities try to match.

As for the Games themselves, I congratulate everyone involved at SOCOG and the AOC for an outstanding effort. I thank the NSW Government for their support and I will never forget the volunteers, they showed the world what it means to be an Australian.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was the IOC President at the time, declared the Sydney Games “the best ever”. He was right, because everywhere I go today people are still talking about Sydney in glowing terms.

There were moments of great significance. North and South Korea marched as one. East Timor competed at the Olympics for the first time. We all embraced a swimmer we dubbed “Eric the Eel”. So loud were the cheers for Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea, I thought the roof of the Aquatic Centre would blow off.

632 athletes wore the green and gold for Australia and were superb ambassadors on and off the field of play.

Young Australians were inspired by their efforts. Ask today’s champions and they will tell you they watched Cathy Freeman, Susie O’Neill, Ian Thorpe, Michael Diamond, Lauren Burns, and Simon Fairweather and decided to follow in their footsteps.

And they will inspire another generation when the Games return to our shores again.

John Coates AC
IOC Vice President & AOC President

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