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SYDNEY (Reuters) - The lycra body suit that Cathy Freeman wore to light the cauldron at the Sydney Olympics may have been returned 14 years after it went missing from her dressing room, the Australian Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.
Freeman, an Aboriginal athlete who went on to win gold in the 400 meters at the Games, wore the suit at the climax of the opening ceremony in 2000, a moment seen by many as a statement of reconciliation with indigenous Australians.
The item of clothing is in the possession of police after being handed in anonymously at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCC), which houses the National Sports Museum.
"On that night, Cathy was soaked while standing under a waterfall after a mechanical fault delayed the lighting of the cauldron," said an AOC statement released on Tuesday.
"She removed the suit after the ceremony and it has not been seen since.
"What happened to the suit has been the subject of much debate over the years as it is a major part of Australia's Olympic history.
"We are hoping the item of clothing handed to the MCC Museum is authentic and the mystery is finally solved."
Local media reports in 2010 quoted a Games volunteer as saying the suit, which was white with blue detail, had been destroyed to save the embarrassment of organizers as the Olympic rings had been printed upside down on it.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by patrick Johnston