GOLD COAST, Australia >> Sun. Surf. Security.
The first two have come relatively easy for organizers of the Commonwealth Games which begin Wednesday on the glitzy Gold Coast tourist strip.
The security will come from 3,500 police and 2,000 members of the Australian Defense Force who have blanketed venues and streets, protecting 6,600 athletes and officials and more than a million spectators who are expected to attend 18 events ranging from swimming and track and field to squash, diving, table tennis and beach volleyball.
The highest-profile visitor will be Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, who is representing Queen Elizabeth II at the multi-sports games. This year’s edition, the 21st, includes 71 countries and territories.
Organizers on Tuesday had two issues to deal with, both at the athletes village.
The Commonwealth Games Federation reprimanded the Indian team’s doctor for a breach of its “No Needle” policy. The CGF’s court decided that “a strong written reprimand” was adequate after the doctor admitted to giving a vitamin injection to a boxer without advance notice to games organizers.
Syringes were found at the athletes village on the Gold Coast on the weekend, but games organizers had earlier ruled that it wasn’t an anti-doping violation.
And Mark Peters, chief executive of the games organizing committee, confirmed three athletes — he declined to say which sport or country — were being held in 48-hour isolation until their illness subsides.
Officials are keen to avoid any repeat of the norovirus — a stomach bug— which caused more than 280 people to become ill at the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“The country involved immediately isolated them,” Peters said. “There are no more than the initial three … it doesn’t affect their training or preparation.”
Peters said of the 1.24 million tickets for the games, there were 140,000 still unsold. Organizers remain confident, though, that sales will hit 95 percent of capacity.
The Queen’s Baton relay will come to an end on Wednesday, 388 days after it started. It has traveled 230,000 kilometers (143,000 miles) and Sally Pearson, defending 100-meter hurdles champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will be among the final baton runners.
Organizers have been serious about protecting the secrecy around the opening ceremony at Carrara Stadium, suspending the credentials of a television network for showing shots from the ceremony rehearsal on Monday night, breaking a confidentiality agreement.
The ceremony is expected to feature a tribute to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. One of the official slogans of the game is “Jingeri,” which means “Good Day Friends” in Yugambeh, a local indigenous language in southeast Queensland.
While staying mum on any details of the ceremony, Peters, a no-nonsense former captain of the Australian baseball team, promised all the singing would be live — no lip-syncing. And no, definitely not, any giant kangaroos.