After eleven days of competition, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games drew to a close last night with what was supposed to be a celebration of the excellent achievements of its athletes and all its participants. Instead, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of (the very few) attendees, athletes and the 1.14 million people watching at home.
Generally, the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony acts as a celebration of the athletes achievements – a giant love-in and thank you as the host nation hands over the reins to the future hosts with a big party. Last night, it wasn’t to be. With reports that the athletes didn’t even know what was going on and Games Chairman Peter Beattie admitting that the organisers ‘stuffed up’, there’s few words for the closing ceremony outside of: Disaster.
Channel 7 – who have had their fair share of critics with the Commonwealth Games coverage due to some big blunders – were accused of not showing athletes entering the stadium during the broadcast, but according to the Basil Zempilas and Johanna Griggs on the Channel 7 commentary team, the host broadcaster, NEP Australia, and organising committee decided to place the athletes inside the stadium before the Closing Ceremony kicked off.
Usually, the athletes would be held back and enter the stadium to the cheers of the waiting crowd and with superstar paralympian and Gold Medal winner Kurt Fearnley tasked with bringing in the Australian flag, it would have been a moment for us – the host nation – to really applaud the efforts of our team.
Instead, we got Usain Bolt pretending to press some buttons next to the fluoro-blue-and-gold Lovecraftian Horror known as ‘Borobi’.
Zempilas and Griggs didn’t hold back in their criticisms of the ceremony:
— 7CommGames (@7CommGames) April 15, 2018
Channel 7’s Sunrise followed up on the debacle earlier this morning, talking to Games Chairman, Peter Beattie, who was again apologetic and claimed the decision to bring the athletes in early was ” driven by the welfare of athletes.”
A poor excuse but responsibility taken, at least. Conveniently it takes the negative press away from Channel 7’s coverage over the past two weeks, too. Make of that what you will.
Interestingly, a Reddit user that claimed to be at the ceremony pointed out that the stadium was nearly empty and the organisers were playing a fake cheer over the PA system at the end of each song. Fans and athletes alike were departing before the ceremony was over.
That most clearly highlights how much of a monumental error the organising committee made. The fans and attendees aren’t clamouring to see pop stars and ex-Australian Idols line up and sing songs. They are there to see and to celebrate the athletes.
Last night, they were sadly robbed of that opportunity.
What is the recourse for those people who attended the ceremony though? Are they entitled to a refund? Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), consumers have rights if a business fails to deliver what they promised and if a live event doesn’t go ahead or has major changes – you can seek a refund. The ACL states that any business must provide services as advertised and with tickets for adults costing up to $350, that’s a huge financial loss if the event is deemed to not have gone as planned. Did the closing ceremony undergo major changes? What constitutes a major change? Would the tradition of athletes not entering the stadium – like they have in previous ceremonies – constitute a breach?
Sadly, in this case, it’s highly unlikely you can seek a refund for the closing ceremony because of the terms and conditions set out by the Games on their website under section 60 and unless the event was cancelled, re-scheduled or significantly re-located, there’s little chance of recourse.
Lifehacker has reached out to the ACCC for comment and will update this article with a response.