Games afterglow to national celebration
Visitors to Australia over the next few months can look forward to an especially hearty Aussie welcome and a lingering touch of magic in the air.
The success of the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games has created a spirit of euphoria that's set for a marathon run. The XXVII Olympiad may be over but the party continues.
Athletes called the Olympics "the Games of Smiles". Observers from around the world noted how Australians cheered spontaneously for all teams and competitors, not just their own side. The same was true during the Paralympics; Aussie crowds backed the home team, naturally, but they also cheered fine performances, regardless of nationality.
As the world's premier multicultural event, the Games suited multicultural Australia perfectly. Before the sporting action began, nearly 200 diverse Australian communities turned out to greet the Olympic Torch. The Flame was hailed at venues ranging from a Sikh Temple at Woolgoolga (north of Coffs Harbour in the far north of New South Wales) to spectacular Cable Beach at Western Australia's remote and historic pearling port of Broome.
The Olympic thrill was heightened by the arrival of 111,000 international visitors, giving Aussies the chance to greet and host them with a cheery "g'day mate!" The smiles and the welcomes radiated across the land - and the mood lingers.
International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch acclaimed the Sydney 2000 Olympics as the "best Games ever". His accolade underscored Australia's ability to organise and stage major, large-scale events - as well as demonstrating once again that Aussies really know how to party!
During an ecstatic Paralympic closing ceremony, Robert Steadward, president of the International Paralympic Committee, told Australians: "You have completed a perfect festival of sport and friendship. What a way to start the 21st century!"
With the Games over, Australia is preparing summer festivals to mark 2001, the country's Centenary of Federation. Australia is now in balmy summer mode, with the sun sparkling, the sea inviting and the weather perfect for outdoor activity of every type, whether it involves playing sport, watching horse races or just relaxing al fresco over a crisp seafood lunch and a bottle of cold white wine.
Australia's Olympic legacy remains for all to use.
You can visit the fabulous Aquatic Centre and swim in the pool where Australia's Ian Thorpe, the Netherlands' Inge de Bruijn and America's Anthony Ervin won their gold medals. You can catch a sporting contest in Sydney Olympic Stadium; watch gymnasts in the Superdome. You can lounge in Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney, site of Olympic cycling time trials and part of the Marathon race route. The Beach Volleyball stadium at Bondi Beach has gone - it was dismantled after the Olympics. But Bondi Beach is most definitely still there - and the temperature is just right for a swim!
Australia took the Games to its heart. The feeling of spontaneous friendship and camaraderie was so exhilarating, people are nurturing it. You'll feel it as soon as you arrive and enjoy it wherever you travel.