Nostalgia for Sydney 2000

Simon Smart reminisces about the Sydney Olympics, and how nostalgia for that time of community and celebration has greater weight in 2020.

It’s more than a little confronting to realise it’s been 20 years since the Sydney Olympics. 20 years! I have the most vivid memories of that magical two weeks. The world had come to our city and despite morbid predictions the whole thing would be a disaster, Sydney sparkled in perfect spring sunshine, a massive range of events went off smoothly and, a true miracle, even the traffic flowed.

I remember conversations on ferries and trains and buses with strangers from out of town and overseas. I can still easily recall the buzz around the city and the good-natured carnival atmosphere at live sites and in pubs and restaurants.

Admittedly I’m a sports tragic, but even I hadn’t anticipated how engrossed I would become in archery, trap shooting and Badminton competitions. I went to everything I could—triathlon, hockey, athletics, basketball, even European handball. I loved every minute. At the end I honestly experienced post-Olympics blues.

It was a moment in time. It felt like a glimpse into humanity at its best—breathtaking physical achievements, complex systems of efficiency and cooperation, even engineering feats. But more important than those things were the sense of shared joy and solidarity. This was community on a mass scale, and it worked.

We are created for relationship, for the shared enterprise; to congregate and commune and celebrate the gift of life in the company of others. Restrictions and lockdowns and cancelled events have reminded us of that deeply human trait, and what’s missing when those things are taken away.

Nostalgia for Sydney 2000 has taken on greater weight given where we find ourselves in 2020. Who could forget Roy and HG’s wombat mascot that stole the show? Fatso… our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!