It was the giant leap of joy that all Australians will forever remember John Fahey for.
As the NSW Premier at the time – and one of the leaders of the bid committee for the Sydney 2000 Olympics – Fahey did not hold back when Sydney won the bid to bring the greatest sporting event in the world back to Australia.
“Jumping Jack, it was amazing. It showed all the pent up anxiety we all had and it just all came out. He was very proud of being the leader of that bid,” the Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates said.
“We partied that night, he was good to party with John Fahey. I can remember my wife and I had the room next to him and we got back to our room about 4am and there was still a party going on.”
Fahey’s death, at age 75, has been met with a flood of tributes from the sports world, just as Australia is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics – which Samaranch himself later declared to be the greatest Games ever.
“John will always be a big part of the Sydney 2000 success story, and as we prepare to celebrate 20 years since those Games began, it is very sad to think he cannot mark that milestone with us,” Coates said.
NRL boss Peter V’landys described Fahey as a “true gentleman” who made a lasting contribution to rugby league, serving as inaugural patron of the Men of League Foundation and later a patron to the Bulldogs.
“He played lower grades for Canterbury-Bankstown and held a number of administrative positions at a grassroots level. John had a genuine passion for growing junior rugby league,” V’landys said.
“As Premier of NSW the game was better for his commitment to growing our sport. The nation will never forget his excitement when Sydney was announced host of the 2000 Olympic Games, nor should rugby league forget how much the game has benefited from the infrastructure that was built because of the successful Olympic bid.”
The World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) – which Fahey served as president of from 2008-13 – said Fahey had been instrumental in the fight for clean sport after building key partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry and law enforcement agencies around the world, including INTERPOL that helped WADA identify new substances and intelligence on how to catch drug cheats.
“John was a marvellous President and an outstanding person. He had very strong values and always acted in the best interests of WADA and clean sport. He felt strongly about making sure that the partnership between all stakeholders worked well for the system and the athletes,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said.