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Olympic Games in Sydney opened

The Australian athlete Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic cauldron at the ceremony Keystone

The first Olympic Games of the new millennium opened in Sydney on Friday amid a colourful display with a serious underlying message. The opening ceremony culminated in the Australian athlete, Cathy Freeman, lighting the Olympic Cauldron.

This content was published on September 15, 2000 - 19:58

Over 110,000 spectators at Stadium Australia witnessed the 400 metres hopeful lowering the torch into a pool of water. She then magically lit a fiery circle around herself which turned into the Olympic cauldron.

However, the cauldron which was supposed to travel up the side of Stadium Australia got stuck at the beginning of its journey for three minutes. Organisers played down the incident by describing it as "a small hiccough."

Freeman, who was picked because of her Aborigine roots, performed a ceremony which was seen as a symbol of national reconciliation between Australia's predominantly white population and the native Aborigines.

Her lighting of the fire came after an otherwise flawless opening ceremony with the motto "G'Day" showing Australia's cultural diversity.

The parade of athletes from 199 nations also allowed Cold War enemies North and South Korea to put aside their political differences. Athletes from both countries marched hand-in-hand behind a single flag showing their peninsula.

swissinfo with agencies

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