2000 Summer Paralympics

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XI Paralympic Games
Paralympic logo 2000 Sydney.jpg
Host city Sydney, Australia
Motto Performance, Power and Pride
Nations participating 121 + 2 "Independent Athletes"
Athletes participating 3881
(2891 men, 990 women)
Events 561 in 18 sports
Opening ceremony 18 October
Closing ceremony 29 October
Officially opened by Governor-General Sir William Deane
Paralympic Torch Louise Sauvage
Paralympic Stadium Stadium Australia
Atlanta 1996 Athens 2004  >
Nagano 1998 Salt Lake 2002  >

The 2000 Paralympic Games were held in Sydney, Australia, from 18 to 29 October. In September 1993, Sydney won the rights to host the 2000 Paralympic Games. To secure this right it was expected that the New South Wales Government would underwrite the budget for the games.[1] The Sydney games were the eleventh Summer Paralympic Games, where an estimated 3800 athletes took part in the programme. They commenced with the opening ceremony on 18 October 2000. It was followed by the 11 days of fierce international competition and was the second largest sporting event ever held in Australia. They were also the first Paralympic Games outside the Northern Hemisphere.


The games was estimated to cost $157 million, with the NSW Government and Commonwealth Government contributing $25 million each. The Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) contributed $18 million, within the bid estimates. The Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC) entered into a Host City contract with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which outlines the SPOC’s obligations in hosting the Paralympic Games. To cover the costs, other revenue was raised via sponsorship and ticket sales. The 110,000 seat Stadium Australia was completed three months early in February 1999, this stadium was funded mainly by the private sector at an estimated cost of $690 million, the Government contributed $124 million to this project. Though there is no budgeted profit, if any profit is made though the games, repayment to the Federal and State Governments is the first priority. In October 1998, governing bodies of the Paralympics including the SOCOG and the Sydney Olympic Organising Committee initiated a call for volunteers. An estimated total of forty-one thousand Australians answered this call, non-including those sourced from specialist community groups.[1] [2]


Daytime view of pond with waterlilies at Sydney Olympic Park during the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games

The major focus between 1999-2000 was completion of the first stage of the Millennium Parklands. This is composed of 450 hectares of landscape, with up to 40 kilometers of pedestrian and cycle trails. This major first stage included focus on the surrounding Olympic facilities, providing a beautiful landscape for recreational activities, conservation and environmental education/preservation. During this time work on the Water Reclamation and Management Scheme (WRAMS) will continue to progress. The WRAMS will be in use during the games with the first stage (recycled water to be used for flushing and irrigation) to be implemented. This system will continue after the games and will be fully developed after the games has been completed. The WRAMS system is only one of the many water saving management strategies to be used during the games period. Plans to use stormwater runoff from Newington to be used as irrigation and a requirement for Olympic venues to utilise water saving techniques and devices are also some of the other water saving plans. Stormwater from the Stadium Australia roof is to be collected and used to irrigate the central stadium. An environmental education program is also delivered throughout 1999-2000 to ensure that Homebush Bay and the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics continue to be recognised for their commitment to the environment.[3]


The Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Games were organised by the Sydney Paralyampic Organising Committee led by President Dr John Grant and Chief Executive Officer Lois Appleby. The SOCOG was established at the same time as the Sydney Paralympic organising Committee on 12 November 1993 by the Office of Olympic Co-ordination. In January 1995, SPOC became a public company controlled by the Government, receiving support by both State and Commonwealth Governments. A board of directors including the Premier, Minister for the Olympics, the Treasurer and the Minister for Sport and Recreation conducted administration. The Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee was responsible for planning and staging the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games including tickets, information on events and disability categorisation, converting Olympic venues to Paralympic venues, conducting events, facilitating drug testing, arranging broadcasting, housing for athletes, arranging medal ceremonies, transporting athletes and conducting the Paralympic torch relay. The Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee also regulated the use of Paralympic Games indicia and images. A committee known as the Joint Working Group was established in June 1997, linking the Boards of both the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee and the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. On 29 November, the Sydney Games Administration Act 2000 was passed. The legislation caused the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee to dissolve from 1 January 2001, its assets and liabilities were transferred to the Olympic Coordination Authority.[4]

Political Context[edit]

Yothu Yindi performs at the Sydney opening ceremony

The Sydney 2000 Paralympics was only the sixth time that the Paralympics had been held in the same city as the Olympic Games. Removal of the Olympic Rings was viewed by some as just another snub in a long line of poor decisions made by the IOC. The launch of the Paralympics was somewhat overshadowed as the Olympics minister Michael Knight announced his retirement on the same day. His timing was viewed by many as insensitive to the Paralympics. A day after this, Sydney politicians organised a large city rally to thank Olympic volunteers, however they had arranged for this to occur on the same day as the Paralympic torch relay. The Government soon realised the clash and refused to alter the day of the rally.

Paralympic organisers received praise for selecting Kylie Minogue and indigenous Australian band Yothu Yindi for its opening party, Olympic organisers took note of this and quickly booked both for their closing ceremony.[5]


The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games were marred by one of sport's biggest controversies which saw a classification of athlete removed from the next two Paralympic games.[6] Fernando Vicente Martin, former head of the Spanish Federation for Mentally Handicapped Sports, allowed athletes with no disabilities to compete at the Games in order to win the gold medal. The team at the centre of the row was the Spanish basketball team, who won the gold medal in the Basketball ID, beating Russia 87-63, despite fielding a team mainly composed of athletes with no intellectual disability.[6] It was claimed that at least 10 of the 12 Spanish players had no disability, rather were recruited to improve the teams performance and guarantee future funding. Martin was later suspended by the IPC and expelled by the Spanish Paralympic Committee.[7]

The athletes were quickly exposed and the IPC reacted by removing all events from the following Games for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The decision was over turned for the 2012 Games in London. Along with the controversy surrounding the Spanish basketball team, the games turned over 11 positive doping tests out of a total 630. Of these 11 positive tests, 10 were from male athletes and 1 from a female athlete. This leaves the games with the highest number of positive tests from the 1992 - 2008 Paralympics.[8]


2000 Summer Paralympics mascot Lizzie the Lizard waves to the audience during the games. The character represents an Australian frilled-neck lizard.

The mascot for the 2000 Paralympics was "Lizzie" the Frill-necked Lizard.[9] The frill of the Paralympic mascot was coloured in green and gold and represented the country via the shape. The ochre colour of Lizzie’s body aimed to mirror the colour of the land. The frill neck lizard is a native Australian animal which inhabits northern parts of the country. The lizard was chosen because of its will to survive along with its tenacity, it carries the Paralympic message of power and pride to both Australians and international audiences.[10] The strength, determination and attitude of Lizzie symbolise the character traits of all Paralympic Athletes.[11]

Lizzie has been given the voice of Olivia Newton-John, a well-known Australian singer, actor and entertainer. Olivia made performances with Lizzie leading up to the Games, spreading the word about excellence within the Paralympic Community.[12]

The outstanding visibility and community engagement to Lizzie the lizard ultimately led to marketing success, unrivalled by the three olympic mascots. Lizzie captured the imagination of the public, leading to the iconic representation at the Paralympic games. The Australian Paralympic Committee noted the significant branding capitol and realised that this could be leveraged in the future.[13]


The 2000 Paralympic games logo was representative of a dynamic human form leaping triumphantly forward and 'breaking through' towards the games. Not only was this depicted through the logo, but so too was the Olympic Torch and the sails of the famous Sydney Opera House, through the use of three graphic shapes. The colours used are unique to Australia and represent the blue of Sydney Harbour, the warm red of the Earth, and lush forrest green. The logo embodies Sydney's vitality, Australia's spirit, and the achievements of a Paralympic athlete.


The Australian team at the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony commenced on Wednesday 18 October at 8.00 pm with over 6000 performers taking part.[11] Australian artist Jeffrey St. John sang "Advance Australia Fair" and "The Challenge" at the Opening Ceremony. Kylie Minogue sang "Waltzing Matilda" and "Celebration" at the Opening Ceremony. Australian actor Bryan Brown was selected as Ceremony narrator for the evening. Other performers for the Opening Ceremony included Nathan Cavaleri, Melissa Ippolito, Taxiride, Billy Thorpe, Jack Thompson, Renee Geyer, Tina Harris, Vanessa Amorosi and Christine Anu. Australian country artist Graeme Connors sang his song 'Being Here', which was specially written for the event. Addresses were given by Dr John Grant, President of the SPOC and Dr Robert Steadward, President of the IPC prior to Sir William Deane declaring the official opening of the games. This was followed by Tracy Cross, a blind swimmer, taking the oath on behalf of the athletes and Mary Longden, an Equestrian Referee, taking the oath on behalf of the officials. The Paralympic torch entered the stadium and was passed from Katrina Webb to Louise Sauvage who then lit the cauldron.[11]

The closing ceremony took place on Sunday 29 October at 7.30 pm. The athletes intermingled with other nations and took to the stage for a party filled with fire, emotion and celebration. During this time, the Paralympic flag was handed over to the Athens Paralympic Organising Committee to the sounds of Mikis Theodorakis 'Axion Esti, Tis Dikiosinis Helie Noite' performed by the Millennium Choir. The Australian group, The Seekers, sang their hit song "The Carnival Is Over" as the finale to the Closing Ceremony. Judith Durham, who had a broken hip, sang from a wheelchair.[11]

Torch relay[edit]

Paralympic Torch, designed by Robert Jurgens, now placed in front of ANZ Stadium

The Torch Relay Programme's objectives were to develop a route and an event which would help maintain momentum between the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, promote the Paralympic Games and encourage ticket purchases. It was also to safely deliver the Paralympic flame to the Opening Ceremony.

While the relay visited each Australian capital city, it also focused strongly on Sydney and the surrounding region, as this was the main catchment area for ticket sales.

The Paralympic Torch Relay succeeded in generating community and media support for the Games, with crowds in many areas and significant crowds lining the Sydney metropolitan route in the final two days of the relay.

The event, which commenced with a lighting ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra on 5 October 2000, involved 920 torchbearers, each of whom carried the flame an average of 500 metres. After visiting each capital city (except Sydney) by air, the relay travelled in New South Wales (NSW) from Moss Vale through the Southern Highlands, Illawarra, Campbelltown, Penrith, Windsor, Hunter and Central Coast areas before heading to Sydney.

Australian athletics competitor Louise Sauvage lights the cauldron with the Paralympic Flame at the finish of the torch relay, 2000 Summer Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Highlights included:

  • The creation of the Paralympic flame during an Indigenous lighting ceremony on the forecourt of Parliament House, Canberra, with Paralympian David Hall (a tennis player) as the first torchbearer. The Australian Prime Minister attended this event.
  • The use of a Royal Australian Air Force Falcon 900 Executive jet to convey the Paralympic flame around Australia.
  • The Paralympic flame being carried across the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (17 October 2000) by four torchbearers.

Sports & Impairment Groups[edit]

The games included 561 separate medal events in 18 sports. For the first time, women's events were included in the powerlifting programme and wheelchair rugby, a demonstration sport at the 1996 Paralympics, was contested as a medal-awarding sport.[14]

Excited school children in green and gold show their support for the Australian Paralympic Team at the 2000 Summer Paralympics

Impairment groups for the games included:

  • Amputees
  • Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Cerebral Palsied
  • Intellectually Disabled
  • Les Autres and
  • Spinal Cord Injuries[11]

Games highlights[edit]

The Sydney Paralympics were deemed the "best Games ever" by Dr. Robert Steadward (then president of the International Paralympic Committee). The games were Australia’s most successful in history, with the nation achieving their highest medal count. Of the 149 medals won, 63 were gold, 39 silver, and 47 were bronze, from ten different sports. Ticket sales exceeded organisers’ initial targets, with 1.1 million tickets sold; nearly twice that of the previous 1996 Atlanta Paralympics 1996 Summer Paralympics.

Action shot of Australian swimming star Siobhan Paton, who won six gold medals at the 2000 Summer Paralympics

The Australian team had a number of notable gold-medal winning performances. Individual achievements included swimmer Siobhan Paton’s six gold medals in the 200m SM14 individual medley, and S14 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 200m freestyle, and 50m freestyle. She set nine world records in the process.

Tim Sullivan topped the track and field medal tally with five gold medals. Sullivan won three gold medals in the T38 200m, 100m, and 400m events, and won two gold medals in relay events alongside Darren Thrupp, Adrian Grogan and Kieran Ault-Connell (T38 4X400m and 4X100m races). The top performing female track and field athlete was Lisa Llorens, who won three gold medals from the F20 high jump, long jump and T20 200m. Lorens also won a silver medal in the T20 100m. Other track medallists included Neil Fuller won two golds in the T44 200m, and 400m events, as well as one individual bronze medal in the T44 100m. Fuller later combined with Tim Matthews, Stephen Wilson and Heath Francis to win another two gold medals in the T45 4X100m relay and T46 4X400m relay. Heath Francis went on to win a total of three golds and one silver after also winning an individual gold and silver in the T46 400m and T46 200m events respectively. Other track medallists were Amy Winters with two golds in the T46 200m and 100m T46, and a bronze in the T46 400m. Greg Smith also won three gold medals in the 800m, 5,000m and 1,500m T52 events.

In Cycling, Matthew Gray won two golds in the velodrome in the individual cycling mixed 1 km time trial LC1, and a gold in the mixed team sprint with Paul Lake and Greg Ball. Sarnya Parker and Tania Morda also won two golds in the women’s cycling tandem 1 km time trial and women’s tandem cycling individual pursuit open.[15]

Medal count[edit]

Australian cyclist Lyn Lepore shows a gold, silver and bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games plus the diamond pin presented to her by BHP for winning gold

A total of 1657 medals were awarded during the Sydney games: 550 gold, 549 silver, and 558 bronze. The host country, Australia, topped the medal count with more gold medals and more medals overall than any other nation. Great Britain took the most silver medals, with 43, and tied Australia for the most bronze medals, with 47.[16]

In the table below, the ranking sorts by the number of gold medals earned by a nation (in this context a nation is an entity represented by a National Paralympic Committee). The number of silver medals is taken into consideration next and then the number of bronze medals.

      Host country (Australia)

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Australia (AUS) 63 39 47 149
2  Great Britain (GBR) 41 43 47 131
3  Canada (CAN) 38 33 25 96
4  Spain (ESP) 38 30 38 106
5  United States (USA) 36 39 34 109
6  China (CHN) 34 22 17 73
7  France (FRA) 30 28 28 86
8  Poland (POL) 19 23 11 53
9  South Korea (KOR) 18 7 7 32
10  Germany (GER) 16 41 38 95

Participating delegations[edit]

One-hundred and twenty-three delegations participated in the Sydney Paralympics. Included among them was a team of "Individual Paralympic Athletes" from East Timor. The newly independent country had not yet established a National Paralympic Committee, so the International Paralympic Committee invited East Timorese athletes to compete at the games under the title of Individual Paralympic Athletes.[17]

Barbados, Benin, Cambodia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guinea, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Niger, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Sudan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam, who had not participated in the Atlanta Games, competed in Sydney.[18]

Media Coverage[edit]

Media coverage of the Paralympic Games has steadily increased over the years.

In the table below, the approximate number of accredited media at the Paralympic Summer Games from 1992-2008 has been listed.[19]

Games Location Approximate Number
Barcelona 1500
Atlanta 2000
Sydney 2400
Athens 3100
Beijing 5700

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had approximately 200 staff in Sydney for the Olympic games, 6 of whom stayed on to cover the Paralympic games. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired four one hour shows of the Paralympic Games after the event was finished.

TV New Zealand also aired four one hour specials of the games post event.

In the United States, CBS broadcast a special called 'Role Models for the 21st Century: The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games'. The special was two hours long and aired in November.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) allowed viewers the opportunity to express their opinions towards the games. Comments were posted under the heading "Has the Sydney Paralympics been a success?" on their website. One viewer, Carole Neale from England was cited as posting:

"I am so disappointed to find the coverage limited to less than an hour per evening, on at a time when most people are still travelling home from work, and dismissed to BBC2, unlike the Olympics which had a prime time evening slot on BBC1 as well as constant live coverage".[7]


Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, multiple Paralympic gold medallist for Great Britain, later said of the Sydney Games:

"Sydney 2000 will always hold a special place in the hearts of everyone who was there. The Aussies love their sport and they treated us simply as sportsmen and women. We weren’t regarded as role models or inspirations, we were competitors. Some of us won gold medals, most didn’t, but, hey, that’s life. Sydney was phenomenal because, from day one, you felt there was something extraordinarily special in the air. Sydney was an athletic Disneyland, it was where magic happened. It probably marked the time and place when Paralympians genuinely became part of the Olympic Movement."[20]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (PDF). NSW Treasury. 1999–2000. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Performance Audit Report" (PDF). The Audit Office of New South Wales. n.d. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (PDF). NSW Treasury. 1999–2000. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC)". NSW Government State Records. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Don't forget 'les autres'". Patrick Barkham. 9 October 2000. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Man that led shameful Spanish basketball team who pretended to be disabled to win Paralympic gold found guilty of fraud". Simon Tomlinson. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Brittain, Ian (2010). The Paralympic Games Explained. 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN: Routledge. pp. 74–75. 
  8. ^ "Is doping a bigger problem at the Paralympic Games than the Olympic Games?". paralympicanorak. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "A Brief History of the Olympic and Paralympic Mascots". Beijing2008. 5 August 2004. Retrieved 25 October 2006. 
  10. ^ "Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games - Lizzy". International Paralympic Committee (IPC). n.d. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Brittain, Ian (2012). From Stoke-Mandeville to Stratford: A History of the Summer Paralympic Games. Illinois: Common Ground. 
  12. ^ "Olympic Games" (PDF). Olympic Information Center. 1997. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Legg, David; Gilbert, Keith (2011). "Chapter 8: Sydney 2000: Moving from Post-Hoc Legacy to Strategic Vision and Operational Partnerships". In Darcy, Simon; Appleby, Louis. Paralympic Legacies. Illinois: Common Ground Publishers. pp. 75–95. 
  14. ^ "Sydney 2000 - General Information". International Paralympic Committee. August 2001. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  15. ^ "A look back at the Sydney Paralympics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 25 January 2002. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Medal Standings - Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 2011-07-12. [dead link]
  17. ^ "East Timor's tiny team gets warm welcome". ESPN. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Still growing: Paralympics world's second-largest sporting event", Sports Illustrated, 20 September 2000
  19. ^ Cashman, Richard & Simon, Darcy (2008). Benchmark Games, The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Petersham, NSW: Walla Walla Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-876718-05-3. 
  20. ^ "Please don't cry for them", The National, 31 August 2008

External links[edit]