Australia at the Olympic Games

Australia at the Olympic Games

Men's team (Olyroos)

Australia's men's football team first competed at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, qualifying as hosts.

The team finished fifth, with Graham McMillan and Frank Loughran scoring the first goals in a 2-0 win over Japan in the first round, before bowing out following a 4-2 loss against India in the Quarter Finals. 

Their next appearance came at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, winning against Yugoslavia and Nigeria 1-0 in the group stage, in between a 3-0 loss to Brazil. The team also bowed out at the Quarter Finals, losing 3-0 to the Soviet Union. 

Our best ever appearance at an Olympic Games came four years later in Barcelona in 1992. The team suffered a loss in the first game, but a 1-1 draw against Mexico in the second game kept hopes alive, before a 3-0 win over Denmark with goals from John Markovski, Damian Mori and Tony Vidmar sending the Aussies through to the Quarter Finals. 

Australia then beat Sweden 2-1 in the Quarters thanks to Markovski and Shaun Murphy goals, but missed out on the Final after going down to Poland in the Semis. The team narrowly missed out on a bronze medal, falling 1-0 to Ghana at the Camp Nou in the third-place match. 

Age limits for the men's Olympic football competition were introduced at Barcelona 1992 and remain today, with only three players over 23 years-old allowed to compete for each country. 

In 1996 a loss to France but a win over Saudi Arabia set up an all-or-nothing clash against Spain in the third match, but two late goals saw Spain win 3-2 and knock Australia out at the group stage. 

44 years on from their debut in the Olympics, Australia once again hosted the Games in 2000 in Sydney, drawing Italy, Nigeria and Honduras in their group. The first game against Italy took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of over 93,000 people, but an Andrea Pirlo goal saw the Italians seal a 1-0 win. 

93,252 fans pack out the MCG for Australia v Italy at the 2000 Olympic Games
93,252 fans pack out the MCG for Australia v Italy at the 2000 Olympic Games

In the second match, goals from Hayden Foxe and Kasey Wehrman saw Australia claw from 2-0 down to level things up at 2-2 against Saudi Arabia, but again Australia was narrowly defeated by one goal. And a 2-1 loss against Honduras in the third game sealed bottom place and an exit from the group stage. 

The men's team qualified for Athens in 2004, making it to the Quarter Finals for the first time since 1992, with a win over Serbia and Montenegro and a draw against Tunisia in the group stage. However, the side were knocked out of the Quarters following a 1-0 loss to Iraq. 

In 2008, the men's team qualified for a sixth-straight Olympic Games, but were drawn in a difficult group with Argentina, Ivory Coast and Serbia. They started the tournament with a 1-1 draw against the latter, but a losses to Ivory Coast and eventual Gold-Medal winners Argentina condemned the Aussies to a group-stage exit. 

In 2020, the Olyroos qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years, competing at the postponed Tokyo Olympics in July 2021. 

Australia were drawn in a group with Argentina (the South American Champions), Spain (the European Champions) and Egypt (the African Champions). 

However, in the opening game, the Olyroos shocked the world with an impressive 2-0 win over Argentina, thanks to goals in each half from Lachie Wales and Marco Tilio. 

In the next match against Spain the Olyroos showed a great defensive display to hold back the Spaniards, but an 80th minute header was enough for them to seal a 1-0 win over Australia. 

The final group game saw the Olyroos face Egypt for a spot in the Quarter Finals, but a 2-0 loss saw the side exit at the group stage. Ultimately, the team finished an overall position of 12th out of 16 nations. 

ausu23 qualify tokyo 2020
The Australian U-23's qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Women's team (Matildas)

Women's Football was added to the Olympics ahead of the 1996 edition in Atlanta, but Australia's first appearance came at the Sydney 2000 Games. 

Different to the men's competition, the women's has no age limit, and the 2000 tournament featured a full-strength Matildas team. Australia went down 3-0 in the opening game against Germany, recovered for a 1-1 draw against Sweden, but lost 2-1 to Brazil in the third and exited the tournament at the group stage. 

Matildas v Brazil at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney
Matildas v Brazil at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney

In 2004 the Aussies made it out of the group for the first time, beating Greece 1-0 after losing to Brazil, and then securing a famous 1-1 draw with the United States, courtesy of an 82nd minute Joey Peters goal. However, the team was knocked out of the Quarter Finals following a 2-1 loss to Sweden. 

Australia's next appearance was 12 years later at the Rio Olympics in 2016, drawing Canada, Germany and Zimbabwe in their group. A 2-0 loss to Canada first up was followed by a 2-2 draw with Germany, and passage to the Quarter Finals was sealed with a 6-1 win over Zimbabwe. 

Australia were drawn against Brazil in the Quarters, but were knocked out via a penalty shootout after the game finished 0-0. 

The Matildas returned to the Olympics in Tokyo, reaching the 2020 Games with five wins out of five in the qualifying tournament. 

Australia was drawn against New Zealand, Sweden and the United States in the group stage, facing off against our Trans-Tasman rivals in the opener. 

Tameka Yallop and Sam Kerr scored to give Australia a 2-1 win, starting off the tournament with a bang. Over 1.87 million Australians tuned into the Matildas second group stage match against Sweden, a broadcast record for a women's team sport in the country, but it was the Swedes who ran out 4-2 winners in an entertaining game.

The Matildas needed a point against reigning World Champions USA in the final group game, and a strong performance saw them keep the United States scoreless in a 0-0 draw. 

The Matildas faced Great Britain in the Quarter Finals, and prevailed in one of the teams' greatest ever victories. After scoring late to secure a 2-2 draw at the end of regular time, Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler struck in extra-time, following a penalty save from Teagan Micah, to hand the Matildas a 4-3 victory and passage to the Semi Finals. 

Australia would face Sweden in the Semi Finals for a spot in the Gold Medal Match, but a cruel deflection led to a Sweden goal early in the second half, and it was all they needed for a 1-0 win. The Matildas would face USA in the Bronze Medal Match, but also fell by a goal, losing 4-3 to the USA. 

Despite the heartbreaking end to the tournament, Tokyo 2020 was the Matildas best ever performance at an Olympic Games, claiming fourth spot and equalling the Olyroos' heroics at the 1992 Games. 

The Matildas celebrate after qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
The Matildas celebrate after qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games