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Concerns over security, transportation with 100 days to go for Commonwealth Games

With 100 days to go for the Commonwealth Games, there are many issues the organising committee has to tackle before the athletes start arriving at Gold Coast

other sports Updated: Dec 25, 2017 10:21 IST
B Shrikant
The Queen’s Baton arrives in Australia at Brisbane on Sunday. The Baton will travel across Australia over the next 100 days before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on April 4, 2018.
The Queen’s Baton arrives in Australia at Brisbane on Sunday. The Baton will travel across Australia over the next 100 days before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on April 4, 2018.(Photo: Gold Coast 2018)

As the clock ticks down for the opening ceremony of the 21st Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia on April 4, 2018 sportspersons from 70 nations and territories are gearing up for what is the third biggest multi-sport event in the world.

But with 100 days to go for the Games to start, there are many issues the organising committee has to tackle before the athletes start arriving at Gold Coast – the top three among them are the heightened concerns over security, local transport and a threat of pullout by major media outlets over key points in the news access rules of the Gold Coast Organising Committee, that are supported by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

The most important area of concern is security for the Games, especially in the light of the car attack in Melbourne three days back that left many people injured. Though it has not been proclaimed as an act of terror by the police, the alleged perpetuator has been identified as a religious fanatic. There has been a similar car attack in Melbourne in January 2017 that claimed six lives.

With societies all over the world fragmented on religious and racial lines like never before in the current era of post-truth politics in major countries, providing fool-proof security seems increasingly difficult as terror outfits are regularly using innocuous daily-use like cars and trucks into murderous weapons. That was the reason why the Commonwealth Games Federation representatives laid special emphasis on security measures during their final Coordination Commission inspection of Gold Coast earlier this month.

“Naturally, as we approach the Games, the focus has turned increasingly to security and risk mitigation, and so I was pleased to be assured of the robust process in place to ensure that Gold Coast 2018 will offer the most enjoyable experience for athletes, spectators and residents alike,” CGF vice-president Bruce Robertson said in a statement.

With the Melbourne car attack occurring a few days after that, the security aspect is again in focus even though the Australian government has assured top-level arrangement for the event.

Local transportation is emerging as another area of concern as there is still uncertainty over the Queensland Rail being able to handle the heavy influx for the Games.

Another major issue that has the organising committee in a fix is the threat by two biggest news organisations of Australia – Fairfax Media and News Corp, which publish some of the country’s top newspapers – to boycott the the Games over restrictions placed by the organising committee on use of digital content during the Games.

The organising committee has put stringent rules over use of audio and video clips for activities before and after events – restricting their use for half-hour after the official broadcaster, the Seven network, has given it. This means news outlets will not be allowed to put audio and video recordings of pre-event and post-event press conferences on their digital platforms immediately.

Though the organising committee and the CGF are trying to sort out these issues, they will have to make haste as time is at premium.

However barring these issues, coast seems clear for the Games as reports claim that preparations at the venues in their final stretch and they would be handed over to the organising committee soon. The CGF and organising committee has succeeded in overcome a huge roadblock over the visa issue, that the CGF claimed as a “major threat” a few months back, as the Australian federal government has agreed to changes to allow bulk applications as it was in previous games.