I really like to see us win in sporting events and think the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games might even do us some good as a country, and as a state.
But three weeks’ out from the opening ceremony, I’m wondering if the Games frenzy has already been overdone and overblown.
Almost every country who has hosted this quadrennial state-sponsored medal program has incurred debilitating debt. That’s because the cost of staging it is eye-watering.
According to GOLDOC, the Games will cost over $2 billion; the largest portion (a staggering $1.5B) will come from the Queensland taxpayer.
A further $156M will be squeezed out of City of Gold Coast coffers, and the Australian Government plans to donate $123M on our behalf.
The remaining $239M, we’re promised, will come from commercial revenue – or sponsorship – from the likes of furniture magnate Gerry Harvey, The Fresh Food People and a pokies giant.
Our $2B-plus bill is more than double the cost of the Glasgow Games in 2014. Theirs came in at £543M, or AUD 964M, a still not-piffling amount by any means.
To work out exactly what the Gold Coast, and Queensland, will get for its $2B, I recommend reading GOLDOC’s pre-emptive evaluation report – a tautology given the report was prepared last year.
While I don’t doubt the Games spells good times for Queensland’s pubs, restaurants, hotels and taxi drivers, the rest of us will be left holding the bag, footing the bill and making the sacrifices.
Public transport woes aside, today we learned that cafe and shop owners in Currumbin have disappeared behind a massive temporary fence in preparation for the road cycling and race walk and have seen the loss of dozens of precious car parking spaces, which has instant and immediate impacts on small, local businesses.
And all for a two-week sporting snoozefest. Are we really supposed to get excited at the prospect of watching Indian weightlifters? The Commonwealth Games excludes some of the powerhouse nations in certain sports. You don’t even get the opportunity to see athletes from the USA, Russia, China or Germany, and that’s what it makes it all a bit ‘Diet Olympics’ for me.
No stone is left unturned in a bid to extract our money in exchange for the chance to sit through the most peculiar, obscure or snoozeworthy sports.
Take wrestling. For WWE at least, it isn’t a sport because they make the whole thing up, it’s actually got more in common with Home and Away than a sporting tournament, except the storylines are 20 times cheesier than anything served up in Alf’s Bait Shop. That is what makes this otherwise completely unwatchable “sport” marginally tolerable.
Then there’s rugby. A dull, plodding and unfathomable sport interspersed with scrums, mauls and punch-ups. I’d rather have a good go at the kitchen cupboards than be forced to watch a sport as teeth-grindingly dull as this.
Then, the madness that is javelin. Watching people who obsessively throw a javelin in everyday life – which no-one even catches at the other end – makes it as skilful as microwaving a frozen TV dinner.
Rounded off by a seemingly never-ending procession of dreary swimming meets, which you could easily catch at your local high school all year round for free.
In real life, these sporting events regularly draw miniscule crowds. Why? Because without the gaudy hype of the Commonwealth Games, nobody seems to care.
The Commonwealth Games is an anachronistic, extravagant indulgence; a lavishness we can’t afford. Or at least we *shouldn’t* be able to *afford it* until we attend to more pressing matters, such as paying for our local school-aged children to have swimming lessons on the taxpayers’ dime.
Shouldn’t we divert $19M to this first before we start importing sand for staging the beach volleyball?