Now that the Games are “here”, the
scepticism expressed by the media over the scale of the event, the budget, the
ban on TV cameras peeking at the opening ceremony rehearsals, tickets, and just
about everything else, has magically given way to chest-beating optimism.

The Age this morning proclaims: “After
years of planning, a 180,000 kilometre baton journey and the inevitable
controversies, the Games start tonight. And Melbourne – the
home of grand sporting events – has embraced them.”

The exact time Melbourne embraced
them has been omitted from the story, but we suspect it was sometime between
close of business yesterday and sun-up this morning. It seems the editors at
The Age decided it was time to officially get in the mood.

The Herald-Sun ran with: “Let the Games begin.
Let mighty, marvellous Melbourne show its new confident, cosmopolitan and
sophisticated self to the whole wide world.” Or at least, the rest of
Commonwealth. Or at least the parts of the Commonwealth with access to a
television, the knowledge the Games are on, and the desire to watch them.

The Oz was less bombastic: “Commonwealth
Games organisers have staked their reputation on the success of tonight’s
opening ceremony, despite a string of last minute hiccups that overshadowed the final preparations.” Last
minute hiccups? Not according to Ron Walker and Games CEO John Harndon, who yesterday
said everything was marvellous, including the mound of Opening Ceremony tickets
they’re sitting on, and the $2.5 million worth of OC tickets they gave away
this week. All part of the plan.

One thing we know for sure is that Australia
is poised to win an embarrassment of gold medals – some are suggesting as many
as ten a day. That’s a crowded market – how are athletes supposed to leverage
their success after the Games when there are so many others holding the same
ticket to ride? To any athletes reading this, the short answer is win an
Olympic gold medal.

Let’s just hope the looming gold rush and accompanying “Aussie
Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” doesn’t drown out the more enlightening
stories
of competitors from other countries, regardless of whether or not they
win a
medal.

Peter Fray

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