Show us ya rings!By Fiona Jane
I have always liked the Olympics. Of course I watch a few of the events, but the thing I really love is that all the TV stations that didn't win broadcasting rights to the 'Games consistently schedule good shows on TV even though they know they're never going to win the ratings.
This 2000 Olympics, however, is special. It's in Sydney; my adopted hometown, and without getting nauseatingly patriotic, somewhere I'm very proud of.
By now I'm sure you've all been subjected to the ubiquitous shots of the sun shining on the harbour, the opera house, the kangaroos and koala's that have somehow come to represent Sydney in the eyes of the rest of the world. Sydney is much more than that, as is Australia.
I've been working from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am every night at a CBD railway station, and each night at the end of my shift, I head off for a beer with other zombies working similarly ridiculous hours. Last night, we had a drink with an American guy named Ken, who proceeded to tell us that where else could you go out every night and get pissed with different groups of locals. Everywhere actually as far as I know, but Ken seemed to think this was a very special quality, and a credit to our nation.
I was also working the night of the opening ceremony, but managed to see some of it on one of our 'live sites' (an idea no doubt we stole from Atlanta), which are giant screens in key locations across the city. I wasn't too fussed about seeing it really, just the national anthem and the lighting of the torch would have been fine. I missed the anthem, but managed to catch some of the ceremony itself which I thought was fantastic.
It must have seemed crazy to anyone who hasn't visited Australia (and no doubt confirmed every New Zealander's view that we're a nation of crack-pots) but to me the aboriginal lore, the native flora, the bushrangers and even the stupid lawnmowers and tap-dancing workers bringing us into a new era of technology all added up to a show that was not only unique, but truly representative of how we are.
I think collectively, it took Sydneysiders a long time to work out that the Olympics were actually coming. We had the announcement in 1993 (…and the winner is Sid-en-ey!!!) which was a great excuse to party and gloat about all those losers from China and Britain who should have known better than to run against US; SYDNEY but not a lot of work got done in the next few years to really prepare us for such an event.
Sure we started building things and planning things, but even in my organisation, we really didn't think in precise detail about how we were going to transport 2.4 million people a day until the final months before the Games began. This lack of preparation, however, fits straight in with the characteristics we've been assigned by the media; if I hear one more TV reporter comment on how laid-back we are I'm going to scream in a quite uptight manner. Worse still, is the chronic overuse of the work 'larrikin' (joker, person who gets up to tricks). I happen to know many humourless anal-retentive Sydneysiders who would be horrified to be referred to as a larrikin.
If you watch the Olympics, I hope three things are reflected about us; that generally we are extroverted, we love to have fun and we are passionate about our sports. The comment by an American swimmer that they'd "smash us like guitars" back-fired badly when for the first time in the 36 years of the men's medley swimming event, not only did Australia beat the US for the gold medal, but they also set a new world record. That's not to say that the US swim team isn't very very good, just that trash talking isn't going to beat talent with an impassioned home-crowd backing.
I've travelled around the world (OK, I'm no intrepid explorer) and fallen in love with places like San Francisco, Seville and London, while other cities I could not wait to get out of (I'm not going to tell you because you probably live there). As the cliché goes, 'there's no place like home' and truly to me, - 'there's no place like Sydney'.
Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi! Oi! Oi!