COVID-19 might still be raging in our region but that hasn’t slowed the post-pandemic political bread and circus show, AKA the Olympics.
Here’s a quick wrap-up of this week’s alternative reality in which both the international and Australian Olympic committees operate, while always strongly backed up by desperate governments — including various Australian ones, of course.
(And I’m not just talking about the current debate over our young, healthy Olympians being pushed to jump the COVID-19 vaccine queue.)
On Monday, the federal government announced it would go halves with the Queensland Government in paying for the 2032 Summer Olympics in Brisbane, should they win the bid (due to be announced in early July).
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To their small credit, Canberra waited until two hours before the deadline to agree to a 50-50 funding deal with the state government, which would include infrastructure, venue and roads.
You know, all the usual useless things promised for a sporting extravaganza of dubious economic benefit while the citizens scream for silly things like health and education.
The cost for the Brisbane folly at this stage is estimated to be a paltry $5 billion (AS. IF.), with the usual snake-oil promises from Australian Olympic Committee overlord John Coates that the IOC will stump up billions, that there will be billions more in private funding, and that of course it will be “cost-neutral”.
As if we haven’t heard that before. There is still widespread scepticism about just how much economic and tourism benefit actually flowed from “the best Olympics ever” in Sydney. And who could forget, though most already have, Queensland just had a go at all this with the underwhelming 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Not enough, apparently.
“It will set Queensland up for decades to come,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, speaking of the bid on Monday. “So Sydney had its time to shine, and in 2032, Brisbane, Queensland, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Let’s put it in context by saying this was the same week we were reminded, yet again, about why the IOC could barely find any cities stupid enough to bid for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics, which were gratefully divided between the last ones standing in Paris and Los Angeles.
And let’s not start on the ludicrous 2022 Winter Olympics with only two bidders; one of which was the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (for once not a Borat satire), so it was naturally awarded to the alternative (Beijing). The US has already raised the prospect of a boycott given China’s current pariah status. Happy Days.
Which brings us to the current Summer Olympics debacle currently unfolding in our region but obviously being ignored by Australian governments.
This Monday, Tokyo went into a state of emergency to try and halt a third burgeoning COVID-19 wave, and this a mere 86 days before the opening ceremony is due for the postponed 2020 summer games.
No wonder some 80% of the Japanese population recently called for the games to be cancelled or postponed.
It might also have something to do with the astronomical blowout in costs for what was already going to be the most expensive Summer Olympics on record. When awarded in 2013 they were budgeted at a mere $10 billion, but by early this year had doubled to $22 billion. Most unofficial estimates, however, put the final bill at more than $30 billion.
Yes, $30 billion for an event that will allow no foreign visitors and expect the locals to brave pandemic risk to clap this travesty as they still won’t be allowed to cheer or shout. Or even scream “I hate the IOC”.
Better than the “Aussie Aussie, oi oi” ringing in the pollies’ ears from Canberra to Brisbane and obviously drowning out the hysterical laughter over that $5 billion price tag.