Some of the world's best athletes won't be in Australia. Injuries shelved NBA stars Tim Duncan and Grant Hill, and most top pro baseball and soccer players will be absent. Here are 10 others who probably would have won medals had they competed.
Shaquille O'Neal (above), basketball The NBA MVP won gold with the 1996 Dream Team but bowed out this year, preferring to chill for the summer.
Pete Sampras, tennis The winner of more Grand Slam singles titles than any other man has never been an Olympian—he withdrew in 1996—and this year he turned down an invitation to Sydney, saying he'd be too tired after the U.S. Open.
Jeff Hartwig, track and field Plagued by dried-out contact lenses at the U.S. trials in July, the world's No. 2-ranked pole vaulter didn't make the team.
Justin Huish, archery The 1996 champ and Geena Davis inspirer resigned from the U.S. team in March after his arrest on drug-dealing charges. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Khalid Khannouchi, track and field The Moroccan-born world-record holder in the marathon became a U.S. citizen in May but, nursing injuries, skipped the U.S. trials.
Michael Simms Jr., boxing The world champ at 179 pounds was kicked off the U.S. team in April for poor work habits, tardiness and an obstreperous attitude.
Lisa Raymond, tennis The world's No. 1 doubles player was passed over by U.S. coach Billie Jean King in favor of Serena Williams.
Wu Yanyan, swimming The world champ in the 200-meter individual medley is the latest Chinese woman banned for steroid use.
Niurka Montalvo, track and field The world long jump champ became a Spanish citizen within the last three years, so she needed a release from her native Cuba to compete. She didn't get it.