Using the example of Sydney's 2000 Olympic bid, this paper examines the relationship between hallmark events and three characteristics of the post-modern city: government policies informed by entrepreneurial rather than welfare goals; the transformation of the city into a product to generate 'cultural capital'; and, the importance of marketing places. Two themes are discussed in the analysis of the Sydney Olympic Bid Limited's invitation material. First, within the theoretical framework of Harvey's time-space compression, the bid is examined as a manifestation of the specific needs of the communicators and a product of the broader socio-political system. Secondly, the ideological and rhetorical meanings of selected city images are examined within the theoretical contests of Lefebvre-Shield's process of 'social spatialisation'. The selection, promotion and presentation of Sydney images are inextricably bound up with de Coubertine's visions of peace and harmony between peoples. Utilising the themes of multiculturalism and environment, the paper illustrates how an Olympic spectacle can defuse, convert and contradict the 'realities' of post-colonial racism and environmental degradation.