2000 Sydney Olympics

The Brief

We can’t believe it was really 20 years ago our when our Director and Founder, Chris Kennedy propelled the company to the world stage, by winning a contract for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


Norwest’s Head of Audio, Ian Shapcott, aka ‘Shappy’ remembers how crazy it was doing monitors on that night on the 15 September 2000. Recalling Cathy Freeman having to hold the torch for so long to wait to light the caldron, that we almost ran out of track! Proudly stating that it was a big night and many big things happened after that.

All up Chris Kennedy supplied more than $4m worth of equipment, including a monster EAW system (which replaced the house system for the night), Midas consoles, as well as truckloads of wireless microphone and monitoring systems for the performers.

Two or three weeks before the Opening Ceremony we did the audio for the NRL Grand Final. It was to be the “test event” for the PA system. The night before the grand final was the only time we could align and tune the system and it could only be done at night after daytime rehearsals were finished. Chris, the late Bruce Jackson (Audio Director), Stephen Law and Randy Fransz were high in the northern grandstand when they were told they had to stop due to a 2am cauldron rehearsal. On that night they had, what looked like to us, like an identical stoppage… and it took 45 minutes to get going again. When it happened on that night the audio team thought: That’s it!! Disaster – it’s all over!

Chris’ most vivid memory is that on the audio, the show, comms channels it was remarkably calm and quiet. The amazing unflappable Dawn Martin, who called the show, came onto the audio channel to ask whether we had the capacity to loop the music (which we did) then told us she would come back to us at least 30 seconds before the end so we could loop before we triggered the fireworks software. We sat in eerie silence until she came back to us 40 seconds out and told us just to keep the track running, which we did, and the rest is well-recorded history.

The event saw the first of the modern-day ceremonies, with Norwest taking the event to a new level, setting benchmarks for international sporting ceremonies audio production.

When we did the Sydney Olympic ceremonies in 2000, Chris Kennedy had no idea that this would be an ongoing business that has now become part of the company’s DNA.


Our outstanding delivery of the 2000 Sydney Olympics saw us go on to deliver the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for Athens 2004, Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Our audio resume for ceremonies is second to none, with our specialised ceremonies crew having completed more than 100 large scale sports ceremonies events between them.

Whilst every event is special, we are honoured to have been involved in some truly Special Events. None come bigger than the Olympic Games.

Fast Forward to today, Norwest, a part of the NW Group, continues its excellent audio reputation and is internationally renowned for large music festivals, community events and major international events.

Chris Kennedy and Steve Law at FOH before the start of the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony