$200k a minute for dud ceremonies
THE internationally ridiculed opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games cost almost $200,000 a minute.
Sunday night's closing finale, slammed for incredibly omitting the athletes from the televised ceremony, led to an extraordinary public apology from Games chairman Peter Beattie - his second in the space of a week.
The American-based production company awarded the lucrative contract for the ceremonies has also come under fire but refused to acknowledge its role in the debacle, expressing "disappointment" at the criticism.
Jack Morton Worldwide beat bids from some of Australia's finest entertainment producers for the $33.15 million contract two years ago and received an extra $13 million last year.
The four hours of bizarre, meandering and at times cringe-worthy ceremonies worked out to a cost of $191,000 a minute.
While the opening ceremony, featuring a mix of weird and wonderful moments, divided viewers, opinion was almost universal on the dud closing ceremony, where athletes including Australian flag-bearer Kurt Fearnley sat in the dark watching performances in a finale lacking star power.
Reaction was immediate, with Channel 7 commentator Johanna Griggs letting rip at the ceremony in the conclusion of the night's telecast.
Mr Beattie, who last week apologised for scaring away visitors with talk of traffic chaos in the lead-up to the Games, on Monday said he took full responsibility for the decision to leave athletes out of the closing ceremony telecast.
He said the decision was "driven by the welfare of the athletes" who were ushered in to the arena before the ceremony started, rather than having to wait outside to make a later entry.
"I am the chair and the buck stops with me," he said. "We got it wrong."
Mr Beattie, who has made an art form of apologies over the years, also said he would apologise to Fearnley.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said whoever was responsible for the decision should "hang their head in shame".
"I'm just as disappointed as everyone else," she said.
"(Games Minister) Kate Jones and I were saying 'when are the athletes coming out?'
"Unfortunately that was a decision by GOLDOC."
Ms Jones, who on Monday night flew to Thailand for an international SportAccord in a bid to secure major events for the state, said people had been let down by the snub.
"Peter Beattie has already said today he takes full responsibility and good on him for owning up to that decision but we expected this closing ceremony to follow the tradition of every closing ceremony, which is about the athletes," she said.
The State Government had little involvement in the production of the Games ceremonies, but Mr Beattie was chair of the subcommittee formed to oversee the marquee events.
The ceremony was also criticised for self-indulgent speeches and lacklustre entertainment which only livened up when athletics legend Usain Bolt had a cameo.
Unlike the previous night, the athletes were front and centre at a civic reception on Surfers Paradise beachfront yesterday.
Fearnley, who was not in attendance as he was flying to London for a marathon race, tweeted that the event should still be remembered as an overwhelming success.
But Queensland swim star Mitch Larkin confirmed athletes had been disappointed and confused by the shambolic closing ceremony and if he had known what was to come, he probably would not have bothered going.
"They tried something different and it didn't pay off," he said.
"It's a little bit embarrassing. I know the Gold Coast is capable of a lot more."
In a tweet, wheelchair legend Fearnley urged fans to remember the positives.
"Please remember that GC2018 has been the most inclusive event that our nation has ever hosted," he wrote.
"We can't let anything distract from that."
A volunteer who was inside Carrara Stadium for the closing ceremony said it was "disorganised chaos".
"It was a complete and utter shambles," she said.
"The way the athletes were treated was disgusting."
The woman said the lead-up to the ceremony was also chaotic, with rehearsals cancelled at late notice. "They had the performers sitting out in the hot sun all afternoon," she said.
In another slight for the event, Games volunteers had been told to bring their own food and drink to an appreciation party on Saturday before Ms Palaszczuk stepped in.
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association will investigate whether ticker-tape parades could be held for athletes snubbed at the closing ceremony.