National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Assoc. Prof. Peter Kell

RMIT University

Aussie, Aussie Aussie Who? Who? Who? How Diversity was Placed Last at the 2000 Olympics

The success Sydney 2000 Olympic Games have been promoted as evidence of a New Australia. This new Australia is seen as being more united, more conscious of the need to move towards reconciliation with its indigenous in spite of resistance from the federal government. Many critics have argued that the staging of the Olympics is a rallying point for a more confident country more comfortable with its identity. The performance of high profile Aboriginal athlete Catherine Freeman was seen to revive the moves towards reconciliation and this tended to obscure and mask other key themes associated with diversity and national identity. Most notably one of the key features that secured the games for Australia- its cultural diversity- was a theme that did not attract significant coverage.

This paper looks at the composition of Australia's Olympic team sloganised with the advertising theme of "Inspiration of a Nation". The 2000 team was Australia's most ethnically diverse (and most successful) Olympic team ever. The achievements of this team are analysed through a review of the media coverage of the 2000 Australian team. The review critically analyses how the press covered issues of diversity. The paper looks at the sensationalised coverage of Australian team members Jelena Dokic, Tatiana Gregorieva as well as more muted coverage of Australian athletes of Asian and Middle Eastern background. The paper relates several case studies concerning athletes from non-Anglo ethnic background and finds that claims about a new Australia are not supported by media coverage which is reliant on outdated stereotypes to report on the performance of athletes. The paper argues that in view of the key role sport has in shaping the Australian identity changes in the style of coverage are key to forging a new Australia in the post Olympic era.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops