Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): The Dome and Exhibition Complex, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales; The Dome and Exhibition Complex, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 16, 2000
Date Finished: September 30, 2000
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.
The first seven teams of the 1999 World Championships in Egypt qualified, headed by champions Sweden and followed by Russia, Serbia and Montenegro (Yugoslavia), Spain, Germany, France and Egypt. Continental qualifiers Tunisia, South Korea, Cuba, Slovenia and host nation Australia completed the field. The defending Olympic champion, Croatia, only came 10th at the World Championships. At the European Championships in January 2000, held in Croatia, they lost a dramatic play-off for 5th place and an Olympic ticket to their neighbours Slovenia, 25-24.
All seven European nations qualified for the quarter-finals, where they were joined by Egypt. The finalists of the 1999 Worlds, Russia and Sweden progressed with relative ease in both quarter-finals and semi-finals. In the final, the Swedes went into the break with a 14-13 lead. In the second half, the Russians rallied from 16-14 behind to 21-16 ahead, with thanks to various saves from goalie [Andrey Lavrov]. The Swedes managed to slightly close the gap, but never again levelled with the Russians, eventually losing 28-26. It was a disappointing loss for the Swedes, as it marked their third consecutive silver medal. The Russians won their first medal as an independent nation, but goalkeeper Lavrov became the first handball player to win three Olympic gold medals, having earlier played for the Soviet Union (1988) and the Unified Team (1992). In Athens, he would add a bronze medal to his collection.