Sydney Olympics 20 Years On
Two decades after the Sydney Olympics, Sr Carmel Hanson recalls those amazing weeks and ponders on the challenges that require Australians to reignite that same spirit today.
On Sunday, 27 August 2000 I had the honour of participating in the Olympic Relay. As I carried the torch up the assigned stretch of Newcastle Road, I looked up and saw a group of our Sisters waving Australian flags and cheering. Where one is all are!!
Twenty years on what is it that we remember about that great event?
Was it Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron, the spirit of community that seemed to fill the City and Country or the lone horseman galloping into Olympic Stadium to begin the Opening Ceremony, an audience of 110 thousand people and many millions more around the world? Do you remember the East Timorese team of 4 athletes marching proudly under their own flag? (702 ABC, 15/09/2010)
What springs to mind for you? For me it was the pride I felt as the whole country came together to cheer the competitors and to celebrate. We were all in together!
Fast forward to 2020 and we now, as a whole country, face another challenge, namely the Pandemic Coronavirus. Gone is that sense of nationalism, of pride, of unity, of standing shoulder to shoulder.
The ideal of the common good is submerged in a movement shouting for the rights of individuals. The protesters clamour that no one has the right to restrict their movement or order face masks to be worn. We also see the rise of the historical divisions between the states and between the Federal and State Governments.
Perhaps it is time for us to stand up and proclaim the collective responsibility to protect the elderly and most vulnerable in our community.
The recent documentary, Freeman on the ABC replays the moment when Cathy lit the cauldron to commence the 2000 Olympics. It was a moment that united the whole nation as never before. Again as Cathy ran for gold in the 400m the whole nation ran with her.
Today in 2020 we will, hopefully, run together again and unite to overcome COVID-19.