‘Heartbreaking’: Commonwealth Games athletes disappointed over closing ceremony

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By Jorge Branco, Rachel Clun, Robert Moran & Broede Carmody

Gold-medal-winning Australian athletes have joined the chorus panning the controversial Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, calling it “disappointing”, “confusing” and even “heartbreaking”.

The decision to leave the athletes out of the broadcast earned the ire of fans, politicians and even Channel Seven’s on-air hosts, sparking an early morning apology from Games boss Peter Beattie.

Swim king Mitch Larkin, suitcase bulging with five gold medals from the Gold Coast Games, said he had encouraged other athletes to stick around for an event that was usually “pretty special”.

“Walking out last night we were a little bit disappointed, a little bit confused,” he said.

“But you know, it is what it is and they tried something different and unfortunately it didn’t pay off.”

 Wheelchair racing gold medallist Kurt Fearnley carried the flag for the Aussies on Sunday night, after finishing his career with a gold medal in the marathon, but audiences at home didn’t see him lead the team out.
Australian swimmer Mitch Larkin has expressed his disappointment at the closing ceremony.

Australian swimmer Mitch Larkin has expressed his disappointment at the closing ceremony.

Photo: AAP

Taking a break from signing autographs for fans on the beach, 200-metre backstroke gold medallist Emily Seebohm said the ceremony ranked as the worst of her three Commonwealth Games and three Olympic campaigns.

“The athlete’s didn’t really know what was happening. No one really communicated anything,” she said.


“I didn’t see Kurt at all, which is really sad because you think as the flagbearer you get this huge honour to do this such an important role and it seemed like no one really congratulated him on his role of being a para-athlete and being one of the best in the world.”

She noted the closing night was particularly important for swimmers because heavy first-week programs meant they usually skipped the opening ceremony.

“It’s a little bit heartbreaking because that was our only chance at doing that,” she said.

On Twitter, Fearnley was more forgiving, reminding his fans the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games had been “the most inclusive event that our nation has ever hosted”.

“We can’t let anything distract from that. We did something special on the Gold Coast and it was one of the best weeks of my life,” he said.

‘We stuffed up’: Games boss

Peter Beattie, the chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, admitted the organisers had “stuffed up” the closing ceremony.

“Did we stuff it up? Yes. Should [athletes] have been a part of the actual ceremony that was broadcast? Of course. We got it wrong. I can’t be more honest about it than that,” Mr Beattie said on Sunrise.

NEP Host Broadcast was in charge of television coverage of the Commonwealth Games. Its website says the company was responsible for “handling incoming video and audio from the venues and distributing it to broadcast rights-holders’ home countries”.

However, Mr Beattie would not apportion any blame to NEP Host Broadcast, saying the fault lay with him.

“I am chairman of the organising committee, and the buck stops with us. I am not interested in blaming anyone else,” he said.

“People are angry that athletes weren’t part of the actual ceremony that was broadcast on Seven.

“We stuffed it up and I apologise.”

Performers ‘sad’ about closing ceremony controversy

The part of Sunday night’s closing ceremony that was broadcast saw a star-studded line-up that included the likes of The Veronicas, Dami Im, Guy Sebastian, Amy Shark and Anthony Callea.

Artists who performed at last night’s ceremony have been reluctant to address widespread criticism because they don’t want to weigh into the “politics” of the highly-orchestrated event.

“I only focused on my performance,” one artist who performed at the closing ceremony said. “I loved the night.”

Performer Ricki-Lee Coulter called the controversy “a little bit sad”, and said the vibe in the stadium was “amazing”.

“I think it’s a real shame, ‘cause the show was actually great,” she said on Gold Coast’s Sea FM on Monday morning.

“I know it wasn’t shown on air, but there were so many athletes in there: 30,000 people were singing Horses and You’re The Voice. It was such an awesome feeling.”

Guy Sebastian was one of a number of local artists who performed at the closing  ceremony on Sunday night.

Guy Sebastian was one of a number of local artists who performed at the closing ceremony on Sunday night.

Photo: AAP

She said she noticed a number of athletes started leaving the stadium once “the formalities started happening.

“I’m sad that the entertainment and the show that was put together got lost in everything that happened with the broadcast and the athletes.”

An estimated 1.58 million people tuned into Seven’s broadcast of the closing ceremony, down from the mammoth 2.7 million who tuned in for the opening event.

On Monday morning, federal Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie congratulated Australia’s athletes on snapping up 198 medals at this year’s games, including 80 gold.

On Monday morning, federal Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie congratulated Australia’s athletes on snapping up 198 medals at this year’s games, including 80 gold.

“Mitch Larkin’s efforts in the pool will go down in the history books. Winning five golds in five events, he has solidified his position as one of our nation’s best.”


Source :  The Brisbane Times

Crowds turn out around the world for March for Science

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Citizens from Durban, South Africa, to Sydney, Australia, and from Berlin to Washington turned out for the second March for Science. In Germany, people came together in 14 cities to support science and research.

March for Science in Cologne (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Becker)

In more than 230 cities around the world — from Durban, South Africa to Washington DC and Sydney, Australia as well as Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne in Germany — marchers and demonstrators turned out for the second annual March for Science.

The impetus for the March for Science 2017, came when US President Donald Trump called global warming a hoax and signed an executive order that rolled back climate change and environmental policies put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

In Washington, DC, more than 500 people donned white lab coats and carried signs that said, “Science not Silence” and “Make America Smart Again” a play on Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Washington protests

“We’re here because no one wants to be led by the gut feelings of our elected officials,” Sheila Jasanoff, a professor of science and technology studies at Harvard, said in Washington.

She made her remarks without specifically referring to Trump’s widely reported tendency to govern by instinct rather than analysis.

“Good science depends on good democracy. Let me repeat: Good science needs good democracy,” she said.

Meanwhile, David Titley, a retired rear admiral who was in charge of the US Navy’s task force on climate change, told the crowd that science shows we need to “take actions now to avoid the worst of the risks we know are highly likely to appear.”

Germans turn out

Participation in March for Science rallies in Germany was lower than expected. In Cologne and Münster there were more than 1,000 marchers. Marching in Cologne, science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar chanted,  “Fight fear with the facts.”

A person holds a sign that says science is not an alternative fact. (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler)Marchers in Frankfurt carried signs like this one

In Frankfurt, according to police, about 500 people took part in protests, less than the 2,000 who had been expected.

In total, protest marches were planned for 14 German cities including Kassel, Koblenz, Saarbrücken and Trier.


Source : DW