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Truly sharing Sydney's Olympic Spirit

By Gary Moore - posted Tuesday, 15 August 2000

When, in 1993, then-NSW Premier John Fahey made his now-famous leap to celebrate Sydney winning the right to host the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, most Australians had little idea of what to expect seven years later.

We knew something of the elite sporting competition and the international media coverage. We knew of predictions of massive economic benefits flowing to Sydney, and to a lesser, extent, the rest of the country.

We were told these would be the "Green Games", and this was a factor in Sydney winning the bitter rivalry with Beijing and other bidders at Monte Carlo. We were assured, by the bid team and Government, that Sydney would do it better than anyone else since the re-emergence of the modern Games in Athens in 1896.


But we knew very little about the general impacts, organising and hosting the Games, would have on the social fabric and community life of the host city, regional NSW and elsewhere.

There were those, in the early 1990s, who had thought the NSW Government, and the bid would have benefited from a comprehensive social impact assessment being done, before the IOC voted. There was some lobbying, from inside and outside the NSW Government, but to no avail.

Why look at social impacts?

This view was based on the belief that a host Olympic city, in accepting the Games, should be doing all it can to spread the benefits across the entire population.

It should also be trying to minimise the costs to the community, and, in doing so, ensuring that negative impacts do not fall on specific sections of the community, and, in particular, families and individuals who are already socially and economically disadvantaged.

In other words, using the Sydney marketing theme, truly sharing the spirit (and sharing the pain).

Who are the advocates?

The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS), in conjunction with other community-based organisations such as Shelter NSW, the NSW Tenants Union, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, People with Disabilities, the Ethnic Communities Council, the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, Uniting Care and the NSW Ecumenical Council, have been strong advocates, since Sydney won the Games bid, for proper attention to be given to maximising Olympic-related opportunities for the whole community and minimising and managing negative social impacts.


All of our organisations have worked inside and external to the Olympics preparation process to advance these objectives.

Since 1996, our organisations have been represented on the Olympics Social Impacts Advisory Committee (SIAC), the formal government/non government body established to advise the NSW Government on these issues.

Since that time, several of our representatives have, at the same time, alongside bodies such as Rentwatchers, been key public critics of inadequate performance by Olympic organising agencies, and the NSW Government in tackling the social impacts of the Games.

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About the Author

Gary Moore is Director of the Council of Social Service of NSW.

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