by Jay Turner
In this 12th installment of the “Road to the Summer Olympics,” we move to the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. With the 1996 Olympics celebrating the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games, the 2000 Sydney Games fell on the dawn of the new millennium, so it is often dubbed the Millennium Olympic Games or the Games of the New Millennium. The 2000 Games marked the second Olympiad to be held in Australia, with the previous Games being in 1956.
It was only the second time that the Olympic Games was held in the Southern Hemisphere of the world. Australia won the bid to host the games in 1993 after losing the bid for hosting the 1996 Games to Atlanta and placing fourth behind Greece and Canada. Australia didn’t win the bid until the fourth-round, losing to Beijing, China, in the first three rounds of voting and eventually winning the games in the fourth round due to United States interference to ensure China didn’t win the honor.
Much like the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the 2000 Sydney Olympics saw virtually full world participation, with 199 countries participating. The only country that was banned from the Games was Afghanistan, due to the Taliban’s non-existent women’s rights and prohibiting them from participation in sports. Four new countries made their Olympic debut, including Eritrea, Federation of Micronesia, Palau, and East Timor.
For numismatics, the bronze medals awarded at the Games were made from melted Australia One-Cent and Two-Cent coins that had been withdrawn from circulation due to their inability to be used in commerce because of their low face value. For numismatic coins, Australia had already begun to popularize circulating and non-circulating commemorative coins and coin programs. Commemorative coins for previous Olympic Games had already been minted by Australia, and with the Games in Australia it allowed for more capitalization of the commemorative coin program. Several coins were issued for the Olympics.
The 2000 $1 Olymphilex Exhibition issues were struck with three different edges designating the mint “Canberra,” “Sydney,” or plain edge for coins made on portable presses at a minting facility at the Olymphilex complex for eventgoers.
For $5 coins, sets of aluminum-bronze and silver issues were produced. A total of 28 different aluminum-bronze issues were produced: Athletics, Aquatics, Pentathlon, Kayaking, Hockey, Basketball, Judo, Triathlon, Archery, Rowing, Boxing, Netball, Gymnastics, Badminton, Fencing, Softball, Sailing, Volleyball, Taekwondo, Football (Soccer), Weightlifting, Equestrian, Table Tennis, Wrestling, Cycling, Shooting, Baseball, and Tennis. All coins were issued with a mintage of 100,000 in a plastic card with the exception of Athletics and Aquatics pieces, which had an additional 30,000 pieces issued in PNC covers. The Australian Mint also issued an official album for this series.
For the silver issues of the $5 coins issued for the Olympics from Australia 16 coins were produced to celebrate the unique flora and fauna of Australia as well as the nation’s cultural development. These coins are struck in proof and have the Olympic Rings and “Sydney 2000” colorized on each one at six o’clock on the reverse. The designs included: Dreaming Festival, Kangaroo & Grasstrees, Sea Change (1), Great White Shark and Coral, Sea Change (2), Frilled Neck Lizard, Reaching the World (1), Emu & Wattle, Reaching the World (2), Koala and Flowing Gum, Harbor of Life (Water), Platypus & Water Lily, Harbor of Life (Land), Echidna & Tea Tree, Harbor of Life (Air), and Kookaburra & Waratah. The mintage on these issues is 100,000 and some issues were included with other sets.
A silver $30 Kilogram coin was issued with a mintage of 20,000 pieces.
Gold coins were also produced and issued with $100 face value. The eight coins feature Olympic designs and six coins were colorized by the mint. The coins include The Journey Begins, Dedication (1), Dedication (2), Preparation (1), Preparation (2), Achievement (Stadium), Achievement (Athlete), and Achievement (Torch). Each coin had a mintage of 30,000 and several sets were issued with some of these coins included.
For what has become tradition at this point, 41 other countries joined in issuing commemorative coins for sale to commemorate the Sydney Olympics in 2000. These countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chad, Congo (Democratic Republic), Congo (Republic), Cuba, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hungary, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Maldives, Mongolia, Niue, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Solomon Islands, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Western Sahara, and Zambia.
The 2000 Sydney Olympics were a celebrated success for both the Olympics and the start of the new millennium. After the issues with the 1996 Atlanta bombing, Australia had what many called the safest Games. The next Summer Olympics, held in 2004, will return to the country of its birth, Greece.
- 2000 Summer Olympics. Wikipedia
- Australian Coins and Banknotes by Greg McDonald