Games aim to overcome concerns over koalas, cricket and beer
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - The beer supply is under threat because of a strike at a brewery leading up to the Commonwealth Games. The local koalas are endangered, too, according to activists who've illustrated the cause with a native marsupial code-named "Sorrowbe" masquerading as a cousin of the official games mascot.
The 21st edition of the old British Empire games is being staged in what is known locally as the Glitter Strip, the tourist haven that sprawls around Surfers Paradise.
Some may say, at least for this particular event, it's just not cricket.
And maybe that's a good thing for local organisers, because a cheating scandal involving the Australian cricket team has the host nation stumped.
Gold Coast 2018 chairman Peter Beattie doesn't believe there's anything his event can't overcome, right down to more mundane concerns about congestion and transport.
Beattie said the cricket scandal had undoubtedly damaged Australia's image as a sporting nation, but the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games "will help restore our reputation."
Australia captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were sent home from South Africa this week for their roles in a ball-tampering attempt during the third cricket test in Cape Town and were later suspended.
Cricket isn't part of the 2018 games sports program, unlike lawn bowls and beach volleyball, although there's plenty of interest in the game from other Commonwealth Games competitors including South Africa, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the countries of the Caribbean.
Still, with sanctions dished out and the cricketers home well before Prince Charles declares the Commonwealth Games open next week, public attention should return to the competition that will feature stars such as Yohan Blake, Elaine Thompson, Shaunae Miller and Caster Semenya on the track and the likes of Adam Peaty, Kyle Chalmers and Cate Campbell in the pool.
Beattie, a former premier of Queensland state, a trade ambassador to the United States and now concurrently the National Rugby League commissioner and head of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, can already point to some good numbers on his side.
About 1.1 million tickets had been sold with more than a week to sell the remaining 150,000. Organisers say the potential broadcasting audience can account for one-third of the world's population.