2000 Summer Paralympics

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XI Paralympic Games
2000 Summer Paralympics logo.svg
Host citySydney, New South Wales, Australia
MottoPerformance, Power and Pride
Athletes3,881 (2,891 men, 990 women)
Events551 in 18 sports
Opening18 October
Closing29 October
Opened by
StadiumStadium Australia
2000 Summer Olympics

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 11th Summer Paralympic Games, where an estimated 3,800 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.

Background to the Games[edit]

On 9–13 September 1993, during the 10th International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Executive Board Session the entity carried out an assessment and announced that 4 of the 5 finalist cities for the 2000 Summer Olympics were in full condition to host the Summer Paralympics. Subsequently, the report of this evaluation was sent to IOC.[2]

Host city selection[edit]

This was the last edition of the Paralympic Summer Games which was run independently of the Summer Olympics, although efforts to unify the two events had already begun at that time and some areas of both such as the Olympic Village and the operational areas were merged for the first time.

At the beginning of his candidacy for the Olympic Games, the city of Sydney showed no interest in hosting the Paralympic Games. But in 1993, a few months before the final presentation in Monaco, Adrienne Smith, a sporting inclusion activist and also the executive secretary of the newly founded Australia Paralympic Federation, along with Ron Finneran, the Federation President lobbied to ensure the Paralympics were part of Sydney's bid for the 2000 Olympics and underwritten by the Federal and State Governments. They also insured that the paralympic athletes would have the same treatment, the same conditions and the same support as their Olympic counterparts. Something that until then was unprecedented and would become a point of no return in the Paralympic Games.[3] After the win, Smith commented that, "We couldn't go public because if we did it would have ruined the Olympic bid. We had no acknowledgement of financial support from the government until the day of the bid in September 1993.[3]


The games was estimated to cost AU$157 million, with the NSW Government and Commonwealth Government contributing AUS$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) signed the host city contract with the recently formed International Paralympic Committee in 1993, a few days after the city had been chosen to host the 2000 Summer Olympics. This contract outlined the SPOC's obligations in hosting the Paralympic Games. To cover the costs, another revenues was raised via sponsorships quotas shared with SOCOG 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 Olympics and Paralympics initiated a joint call for volunteers. An estimated total of forty-one thousand Australians answered this call, non-including those sourced from specialist community groups.[1] [4]


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

In an innovative way, the Olympic and Paralympic project had as the major focus, the 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 and Paralympic 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 2000 Olympic and Paralympics continues to be recognised for their commitment to the environment after their end.[5]


Since the 1989,the Paralympic Games are governed and organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Games were organised by the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC) led by President Dr John Grant and chief executive officer Lois Appleby. The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games Organizing Committee (SOCOOG) was established at the same time and in a parallel way as the Sydney 2000 Summer Paralympic Games Organizing Committee (SPOC) on 12 November 1993 by the Australian Government Office of Olympic Co-ordination. In January 1995, SPOC and SOCOOG became public companies controlled by the Government, receiving support by both State and Commonwealth Governments. The two companies had the same board of directors composed of members appointed by Premier, Minister for the Olympics, the Federal Treasurer and the Minister for Sports and Recreation conducted the joint administration. As their Olympic counterpart the SPOC was responsible for planning and staging the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games including the tickets and information services, the disability categorisation, converting Olympic venues to Paralympic venues, conducting public events, facilitating drug testing, arranging broadcasting, housing for athletes, arranging medal ceremonies, transporting athletes and conducting the Paralympic torch relay. Along the IPC, the SPOC also had the responsibilities to regulated the use of Paralympic Games brand and images. Subsequently, a Committee was created that involved all interested parties in the conduction of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Known as the Joint Working Group was established in June 1997, linking the Boards of both the SPOC and the SOCOG. On 29 November of the same the Sydney Games Administration Act 2000 was passed at the parliament. This specific legislative act forced the dissolution of the SOCOG and SPOC from 1 January 2001,and their assets and liabilities were transferred to the Olympic Coordination Authority (OCA).[6]

Political context[edit]

Yothu Yindi performs at the Sydney opening ceremony

The Sydney 2000 Summer Paralympic was only the sixth time that the Paralympics were hosted at the same city as the Olympic Games. Contrary to what was expected, the 16 days of transition between the Games (October 2 to 18, 2000) were political tense for the Sydney City. At the early hours of the morning of October 2,was of the public knowledge that the SOCOOG had the decision to remove the Olympic rings from the Harbour Bridge. This decision overshadowed the launch of the Paralympic Games and the start of the Paralympic torch relay, which would be starting exactly that day in Canberra. A few hours later, the chairman of SOCOOG, Michael Knight,would no longer be involved with anything related to the Paralympic Games. For the public opinion, this was seen as another insensitive decision. For the country's public opinion, this decision was frowned upon and was also seen as insensitive towards the Paralympic Games. Subsequently, SOCOOG marked for a next day a public celebration dedicated to the volunteers who worked for the success of the Games. However, the local authorities knew that this celebration would coincide with the arrival of the Paralympic torch in the city and refused to re-mark this celebration.

Some days later, the Paralympic organisers received public praise for inviting the pop diva Kylie Minogue and indigenous Australian band Yothu Yindi for the Opening Ceremonies. A few hours after have the knowledge at the behind the scenes that the Olympic organisers, quickly made an invitation to Kylie and Yothu Yindi to participate at the Opening Ceremonies. But, was already known in Australia that Kylie was not able to be at the country on that week, because she had a full schedule in Europe to promote the upcoming release from the Light Years album album and wouldn't have time to get to Sydney before the ceremony.[7]


The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games were marred by a scandal which saw a classification of athletes removed from the next two Summer Paralympics.[8][9] 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.[9][10] It was claimed that at least 10 of the 12 Spanish players had no disability, rather were recruited to improve the team's performance and guarantee future funding. Martin was later suspended by the IPC and expelled by the Spanish Paralympic Committee.[11]

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 overturned 12-years later 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.[12]


The mascot for the 2000 Paralympics was "Lizzie" the Frill-necked Lizard.


The 2000 Summer 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 Paralympic Torch and the sails of the famous Sydney Opera House, through the use of three graphic shapes. The color tones used are unique are related to Australian nature. They are choose to represent the blue of Sydney Harbour,the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, the warm red of the Outback and a lush forest green who represent the unique forestry australian characteristics. The logo also embodies the host city 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.[13] The show started by the australian artist Jeffrey St. John sang the national anthem "Advance Australia Fair" and "The Challenge" at the Opening Ceremony.The 2-hours and half ceremonies ended Kylie Minogue with an "Waltzing Matilda" special version,her rention of "Kool & the Gang's Celebration" and her hit "Spinning Around". Australian actor Bryan Brown was selected as ceremony narrator for the evening. Other performers for the Opening Ceremony included the band Yothu Yindi, 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",as the event official theme song. 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 Tracey 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 relay final legs were held until ending with Louise Sauvage who lit the cauldron.[13]

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 the handover ceremony, the Paralympic flag was handed over to the Greek Paralympic Committee on behalf of the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC). The handover ceremonies sound of the Greek classic song "Axion Esti, Tis Dikiosinis Helie Noite" written and composed by Mikis Theodorakis, performed by the Sydney Children's Choir and The Millennium Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. To close the ceremonies, the first Australian group to make international success outside the country, The Seekers, closed the games with "The Carnival Is Over". Due an accident some days before the event and a broken hip, the singer Judith Durham sang the song sitted at on a wheelchair.[13]


In total 12 venues were used at the 2000 Summer Olympics were used at the Games in Sydney.[14]

Sydney Olympic Park[edit]


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 flame created from burning eucalyptus leaves in a special 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 torch entered 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 legend Louise Sauvage lights the Paralympic Cauldron 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 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 and impairment groups[edit]

Accompanying its Olympic version, for the first time the powerlifting program was expanded to women. Demonstration sports in Atlanta 1996, wheelchair rugby became an official sport. The number of events for ID also increased and for the first time a basketball tournament for the category was included in the program.[15]

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[13]

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 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. Llorens 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.[16]

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.[17]

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)

1 Australia (AUS)*633947149
2 Great Britain (GBR)414347131
3 Canada (CAN)38332596
4 Spain (ESP)383038106
5 United States (USA)363934109
6 China (CHN)34221773
7 France (FRA)30282886
8 Poland (POL)19231153
9 South Korea (KOR)187732
10 Germany (GER)16413895
Totals (10 nations)333305292930

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.[18]

Barbados, Benin, Cambodia, El Salvador, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Palestine, Rwanda, Samoa, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam competed for the first time.[19]

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 to 2008 has been listed.[20]

Approximate number of accredited media personnel at the Paralympics
Games location 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".[11]


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."[21]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (PDF). NSW Treasury. 1999–2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Sydney 2000 Paralympic Summer Games". Stock Mandeville Paralympic Heritage. April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Horton, Luke (31 March 2011). "Adrienne's amazing Olympics bid effort". Macleay Argus. Retrieved 26 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Performance Audit Report". The Audit Office of New South Wales. n.d. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (PDF). NSW Treasury. 1999–2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC)". NSW Government State Records. 1 January 2001. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Don't forget 'les autres'". Patrick Barkham. 9 October 2000. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  8. ^ Tremlett, Giles (16 September 2004). "The cheats". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Spain ordered to return golds". BBC Sport. 14 December 2000. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  10. ^ Kettle, Harry (25 April 2017). "Spain's moment of shame: The 2000 Summer Paralympics". The Versed. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  11. ^ a b Brittain, Ian (2010). The Paralympic Games Explained. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. pp. 74–75.
  12. ^ "Is doping a bigger problem at the Paralympic Games than the Olympic Games?". paralympicanorak. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d Brittain, Ian (2012). From Stoke-Mandeville to Stratford: A History of the Summer Paralympic Games. Illinois: Common Ground.
  14. ^ "The Experience". Sydney 2000 Paralympics Organizing Committee. 2000. Archived from the original on 29 February 2000. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Sydney 2000 – General Information". International Paralympic Committee. August 2001. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  16. ^ "A look back at the Sydney Paralympics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 25 January 2002. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Medal Standings – Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2011.[dead link]
  18. ^ "East Timor's tiny team gets warm welcome". ESPN. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  19. ^ "Still growing: Paralympics world's second-largest sporting event" Archived 17 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Sports Illustrated, 20 September 2000
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Please don't cry for them" Archived 15 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The National, 31 August 2008

External links[edit]

Preceded by Summer Paralympics

XI Paralympic Summer Games (2000)
Succeeded by