15 years on from the Sydney Olympics

15 years on from the Sydney Olympics
Revisit history with our collection of Sydney Olympic websites and discover their importance in Australia’s web archives.
29 September 2015

In September 2000, Australia hosted its second Olympic games, this time in Sydney. This Olympics was different from previous as it coincided with the rise and rise of the World Wide Web (the web). The web had been growing in importance in the lead up to 2000 but, as noted in a previous blog post by Paul Koerbin, little trace of these early Olympic websites can be found. The increased maturity of the web in 2000 meant that the Sydney Olympics had more online material produced than any previous Olympics. Our Pandora web archiving service captured them all. 

Sydney 2000 Olympics, photograph by David Mahony

David Mahony, Sydney Olympics 2000, marathon runners cross Sydney Harbour Bridge  2000, nla.obj-136587996

The first thing to notice about the collection is the amount of websites collected. The collection consists of 137 titles. This was a large amount of material to be archived considering the relative youth of the fledgling web archiving section at the National Library of Australia. For comparison the entire collection for the 1998 federal election only resulted in 22 websites archived.

2000 Sydney Olympic Collection

One other notable thing about the collection is the number of sub-collections it is broken up into, a total of thirty-nine. These range from ‘Athletic trials’ to ‘Energy Management’ and ‘Ticket packages’. Fourteen of these sub-collections have only one title. The number of sub-collections within the Sydney Olympics collection does show the breadth of the scope and ambition of the collecting that occurred in 2000.

An event like the Olympics will generate a lot of community interest and this will result in a broad range of sites including, school, protest and religious websites. So apart from the official Olympics websites archived, many smaller communities based websites were targeted for inclusion. It is worth noting that none of our subsequent Olympic collections produced anything like the number of sites collected for Sydney. The London Olympics in 2012 has only 22 websites. This is probably both as a result of the interest shown in the community to a locally held Olympic Games but also the value the Pandora curators put on websites held during an 'Australian' Olympics.

The section under “Students’ sites” is actually one of the larger sub-collections and holds ten websites from schools all over Australia including the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, ACT and Queensland. The amount of school sites produced and archived in what could be considered the early days of the web show that schools all across Australia had a high level of engagement with both the internet and the Games. 

Rochedale School website of Sydney Olympics

Rochedale State School, nla.arc-13618

The Community project called Ophir Gold 2000 was to raise funds to purchase gold from the Ophir area, the site of Australia’s first gold rush. The community project became the official supplier of the victory medals for the Sydney Olympics.

Ophir Gold Community website

Ophir Gold 2000, nla.arc-13804

Merchandising is a large component of modern Olympics and a range of brands were collected for the Sydney Olympics—including major brands like Jurlique and Akubra. Both Australia Post and the Olympic Coin Program built bespoke mini-sites to promote their merchandise. This collection also has the website for the Arbotech Airboard. This single person hoverboard was not an official sponsor but was used in the opening ceremony and caused considerable ‘buzz’ at the time.

Arbotech Airboard website

Arbotech Airboard, nla.arc-13777

Ansett was the official airline of the Sydney Olympics and they had set up a mini-site for the Olympic Games. At the time, you could not book online but were provided with a phone number to call to arrange your Olympic trip. Just 12 months after the Olympics Ansett would be in the process of collapsing.

Ansett was the official airline of the Sydney Olympics 

Ansett Australia - Travel Olympics, nla.arc-10550

Web archivists are always interested in capturing both sides of any story and of real concern to many Sydneysiders during the Games was accommodation. Rentwatchers was a community group that was involved in providing information and support to those involved in providing and consuming accommodation around the Games. They produced a newsletter and a “Goin’ Thru the Roof Kit” to help those impacted by rent increases in Sydney. The curators also archived the Ray White website that provided the official residential program for the Sydney Olympics. More advanced than the airline websites you could search online for the level of accommodation you required, though this functionality is not able to be archived. 

Ray White Sydney Olympics Accommodation website

Ray White Real Estate, nla.arc-10549

The collection is a product of its time. It was built in a time when archiving material was difficult, requiring a lot of manual work to make each harvest functional. Web archivists had to decide where the resources they had would be focused. A lot of the resources were put into the large official sites such as the official Olympic website which was captured every day of the olympics. This site would have been considered the most valuable and the most at risk at the time. However, the curators had the foresight to include many of the community websites and unofficial sites that accommpanied the Games. So today we can go back and see not just the official Sydney games but also the communities response to the event being held in Australia.

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What a wonderful archive to come across in my own research. Pertinent foresight that will only gain more significance as time marches on...and to think this might have been lost.
What a wonderful archive
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