Beating the challenge by Sri Lanka’s Hambantota, 43 votes to 27, the Gold Coast will play host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. What tipped our beautiful coastal city over the edge when it came to the selection committee? Here are the top reasons and what it means for the region.
The official bid by the Gold Coast was launched in 2008 by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. The bid, while backed by Bligh and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clark, was largely the hard work of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Bid team. The tagline “it’s our time to shine” and the desire to be the greenest games ever held were two steps in the right direction. Of course, the bid was just the first step towards securing the games. Bligh and Clarke went to St Kitts in the Caribbean where the announcement was made. During their time on the island, they also lobbied individuals with 15 meetings in the lead-up to the announcement.
The Gold Coast bid was largely centred around the fact that the city has extensive experience in hosting large-scale sporting events. There are already existing facilities that are high quality and well located. Sri Lanka’s Hambantota was bidding for the hosting privilege for the first time. The coastal district, largely underdeveloped, was hit hard by the 2004 Tsunami. However, the district used their bid to promise new, exciting developments and facilities including new stadiums and an international airport, that linked to the city’s long-term plans, earmarking Hambantota as a sports city. Of course, that’s not to say the Gold Coast hasn’t had to update and build new facilities. The point was that the city was well-equipped already to deal with such a large-scale sporting event, and was prepared to update and build as needed. For example, the main Metricon Stadium increased its capacity to 25,000 spectators and, during the games, temporary seating will be set up increasing capacity to 40,000.
Also, the Aquatic Centre, which has been known as Southport Pool and has been in use since 1964, received a $42 million upgrade as part of the Commonwealth Games legacy project. Other sporting events have already benefited from the upgrade, with the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in the new facilities in June 2014.
As the largest sporting event Australia will see this decade, and the biggest sporting event the Gold Coast has ever seen, the branding behind the 2018 Commonwealth Games needed to be substantial. In April 2013, the official Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 emblem was unveiled; a giant blow up sign, about four storeys high, was inflated at Broadwater Parklands. The design, using gold, green and blue, symbolises the Gold Coast in all its glory – the beach, the water and the hinterland. The overall branding embraces three important pillars of any large-scale sporting experience – the place, the event itself and the sport – and revolves around the concept of ‘Share the Dream’. The Share the Dream concept is a call to action, asking athletes to share their dreams with the spectators, and asking the spectators to actively immerse themselves in the experience.
And then, there’s the mascot. Borobi the blue koala has indigenous markings on his body. His name, Borobi, is an Aboriginal term for Koala. And what’s more synonymous with Australia than a cuddly koala? Plus, he surfs!
While the Commonwealth Games is mostly all about the sport, there are other things going on in the Gold Coast at the same time. The Festival 2018 Gold Coast is a 12-day action-packed culture festival celebrating the arrival of the Commonwealth Games to the Gold Coast and the sporting events themselves. There are 160 events spanning from Coomera to Coolangatta and it really puts the Gold Coast on the world stage, presenting the best local contemporary works and artists. Best of all, it’s free.
GREENEST GAMES EVER
Part of the bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games was an agreement to make it the greenest games ever. The Gold Coast is renowned for its natural beauty, and the Commonwealth Games is all about celebrating and connecting with this beauty. The ISO 20121 and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework are guiding the sustainability element of the games. The main pillars are source responsibility, managing the impact and inspire inclusive active communities. The aim of the games is to leave positive economic, environmental, social and community legacies that last beyond the final days. When it comes to sourcing responsibility, it’s all about the positive impact of the supply chain, from material selection right through to labour rights and local capacity building. The program aims to achieve value for money, contribute to the local economy, minimise the environmental impact and be socially responsible, for example, minimising food and food packaging waste. Additionally, the Games will be a helium balloon free event and all messaging throughout the Games will encourage spectators to bring their own transparent water bottles to events, where refill stations will be provided.
A GAMES FOR EVERYONE
In terms of inclusivity and active communities, the Gold Coast is also breaking barriers by creating a truly inclusive environment for all athletes, volunteers and spectators. For example, there will be an equal amount of medal events for men and women; this is the first games to do this. Additionally, the para-sport program, integrated into the sports program, is the largest ever. The 2018 Commonwealth Games aims to be a Games for everyone, in and out of the sporting arena. Perhaps that’s why the Gold Coast won the bid so spectacularly.