Another Olympic Stadium
In the main stadium there were two screens each with an area of 135 m2
Naoko Takahashi, winner of the Women's Marathon at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, looked up at the ASTROVISION screen ahead of her on the track.
The big screen showed Lydia Simon coming up behind. Realizing that she was not as far in front of Simon as she had thought, Takahashi made one last supreme effort and increased her pace.
The gap between Takahashi and Simon, which had been 28 seconds at the 40km mark, had closed to just 10 seconds by the time Takahashi passed the gate into the main stadium.
In "Stadium Australia," the biggest outdoor stadium which had ever been built for an Olympic Games, two ASTROVISION screens were set up facing each other. The stadium was so huge that it was almost impossible to see what was happening at the other end of the field. However, the ASTROVISION screens provided a clear picture not only for the spectators, but also for the athletes themselves who had the opportunity to view themselves in mid-contest.
In the sports' stadiums of today wide vision screens have become indispensable. At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games too there were ASTROVISION screens in many of the stadiums and it was also at Sydney that ASTROVISION suggested a new type of sporting entertainment. The gigantic screens escaped from the confines of the stadium and appeared in downtown Sydney.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the last Games of the Olympiad before the new millennium, were known as the "People's Games." The sports-loving Australians were thrilled by the performance of star athletes such as Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman. However, they were not partisan. Whenever an athlete from another country performed some impressive feat the crowds cheered just as enthusiastically. 46,000 volunteers helped with the running of the Games, and provided friendly care for athletes and spectators. There is no doubt that the real stars of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were all the people from around Sydney who supported the Games and made sure that the last great sporting event of the century was great fun for everyone.
There was no shortage of ideas to ensure that everyone at the Olympic Games had a good time. For the duration of the Games all schools in New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, from kindergartens to universities, were given special holidays. In Sydney itself, just before the start of the Games, six so-called "live sites," large free entertainment areas, were established. A big Panasonic ASTROVISION screen was set up in the middle of each site to broadcast live performances and concerts. The events were also shown live on these screens.
Yoshi Goto, Assistant Councilor Astrovision Department of Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ltd.
Yoshiyuki Goto, who was in charge of ASTROVISON at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, comments:
"In Sydney these "live sites" were built in parks and other places where people gathered. In the main "Domain Live Site," a broad area to the south of the botanical gardens, full-scale concerts attracting audiences of 100,000 people were held every day. Other places were also buzzing with energy. These sites were even more popular than we had ever imagined they would be."
September in Sydney is a pleasant season with spring in the air. If you couldn't get a ticket for the actual Games, nobody wanted to stay at home and watch them on television. It was far more fun to be out sunbathing on the grass, drinking beer and sharing the excitement with everybody else around the big screen. The event programs at the live sites appeared in the newspaper television schedules and everyone converged on the places where popular athletes were due to appear. Information was exchanged about the best places to get a good view and there was sometimes fierce competition for good places.
"Each day's events began early in the morning. At seven o'clock we switched on the equipment and got ready for broadcasting. Even after the Olympic programme had finished for the day, the events at each site went on being shown late into the night. For over two weeks, from the Olympic Torch Relay before the Opening Ceremony right up till the Closing Ceremony, the ASTROVISION screens had to work every day without a break. If by chance something went wrong with a screen in one of the stadiums it wouldn't matter so much because the actual event was taking place in front of people's eyes. At the live sites on the other hand ASTROVISION was everything. Accidents or breakdowns couldn't be allowed to happen."
People enjoyed viewing an ASTROVISION screen outdoors in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Games began and the Australian athletes were in action every day. Behind the festive mood of the live sites the Panasonic team were hard at work. Only a limited number of staff members were available to look after the ASTROVISION screens dotted about Sydney. As many as 19 ASTROVISION screens at 16 locations including stadiums and live sites were used at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In order to procure such a lot of equipment at short notice, screens from around the world were rented and brought to Sydney.
"Sometimes the screen was one from several years ago, and there were all sorts of different models. So our first problem was getting together repair parts which would cover different generations of equipment. The local Australian firm which we relied on for maintenance were at a loss. Even if they were asked to do the same repair they had done the day before somewhere else they didn't know where to begin because the screens would be different models."
At times like these, somebody from Panasonic would have to hurry directly to the screen which was having problems and give detailed instructions about what to do. However, downtown Sydney had been transformed into a celebration site. It was impossible to get quickly from place to place by car on roads with traffic restrictions and traffic jams. So the bicycle came into its own. To get to the screen where they were wanted, our employees rode through the crowds on their bikes.
"Whenever there was a problem there would be a message: "Get on your bike and get over there as fast as you can!" They buckled on their helmets for all the world like competitors in the triathlon. In Sydney there's even a cycle lane on the expressway and you can carry your bicycle onto trains and ferries so downtown the bicycle really did reign supreme."
There was also an unforeseen result. The 30 bicycles which Panasonic had brought to Sydney were noticed by many people and managed to do some advertising on their own behalf.
"The mood of excitement among the crowd was so intense that I even felt quite nervous. What if the screen broke down and the broadcast stopped? We would have a riot on our hands! In actual fact, once the site repair was finished and the broadcast started up again the crowds would give us a warm round of applause. The Aussies' laidback temperament allows "no worries." Just being near all these people enjoying the Olympic Games to their heart's content made me forget my day-to-day worries. I was truly glad that we had brought ASTROVISION to Sydney."
ASTROVISION operated in 6 sites for 18 days without a break.
On the last day of the live sites, the dazzling Closing Ceremony was shown on ASTROVISION after the live broadcast of the men's Marathon. Afterwards there was a magnificent firework display over Sydney Harbor and with this the millennium Olympic Games were brought to a highly successful conclusion. However the parties at the live sites went on and on. The finale of the "People's Games" had yet to begin.
The "Domain Curtain Call Celebration Concert" got underway at the biggest of the live sites, the "Domain Live Site." The artists who had taken part in the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium came rushing over for the concert. A popular DJ was also there and the dancing went on till three o'clock in the morning. Everyone was reluctant to let the final curtain come down on the the Games.
Without ASTROVISION these places would have been ordinary street corners. Thanks to ASTROVISION tens of thousands of people were able to share the emotion of the Olympic Games and join in the celebrations. These enormous ASTROVISION live sites which suddenly appeared throughout Sydney were undoubtedly another stadium at the "People's Games."
* These reports were written in February 2002.
We changed the corporate name from Matsushita Group to Panasonic Group on October 1, 2008.
Some reports in this page use our former name because they were written before the renaming.