The 2016 Games, formally the 1st Terran Games of the Kanamit Confederacy and commonly known as the Alien Olympics, was a major interplanetary sporting event. It took place in New South Wales, Australia, from 5 to 12 October 2016.
The opening ceremony took place on 5 October at the Stadium, a purpose-built structure constructed over the former town of Gabbadoon in northern NSW. More than 5000 athletes from Australia and across the world competed, along with 30-40 Aliens.
Following first contact and the arrival of the Aliens in Gabbadoon on 3 October 2015, Australia was selected as the host country for the Games. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Sports Minister Sussan Ley announced the Games at a joint press conference with two Alien delegates. Australia was the first country on Earth to host the Kanamit Confederacy Games, and according to the Alien delegates it was chosen because of the country’s enthusiasm for sport.
Development and preparation
The Commonwealth Organising Committee of the Games (COCG) was created to oversee the staging of the Games after the announcement, and held its first board meeting on 2 November 2015. The committee, co-chaired by Ian Thorpe and former Australian PM Tony Abbott, was in charge of implementing and staging the Games, as well as overseeing construction of the Stadium and infrastructure.
In January 2016, some members of the Alien delegation raised security concerns surrounding the hosting of the Games in New South Wales, due to a number of protests and riots in Sydney and around the semi-constructed Stadium. The COCG made assurances that the riots would not affect the Games, and the Australian government passed new legislation criminalising acts of protest against the Games.
The Games took place entirely within the custom-built Stadium, a venue the size of a small town. The Stadium is 645 metres (2116 feet) tall and contains seating for over 100,000 human spectators and approximately 1000 Alien spectators.
Within the Stadium, a variety of different athletic environments are able to be simulated, depending on the competition being staged. The main track uses two vulcanised rubber layers and one layer of the classified Alien latex-substitute, while the turf in the Stadium is a mix of Australian native grasses and Alien blackfungus.
During the Games, the Stadium’s grandstands contained a holographic system developed by the Aliens that allowed them to function as a giant video display. The system was primarily intended for use during the endgame periods of the various competitions, and allowed human and Alien spectators to experience the final moments of the competitions from their seats.
The Stadium was built on the area formerly occupied by Gabbadoon, a rural town with a former population of only 6380 people at the time of the 2011 census.
Residents of Gabbadoon were offered financial inducements to move out of the area. At least one man, Charlie O’Brien, refused to leave and was shot by police in an ensuing struggle. The incident was later described as a “regrettable accident” by Prime Minister Turnbull, and a small plaque featuring O’Brien’s name was placed at the Stadium by his family and two Alien representatives prior to the opening ceremony.
While the Games were officially privately funded, the Stadium costs were met largely by public money. The original budget for the Games was $5 billion AUD ($3.5 billion USD) in 2015, but this increased almost fourfold to $19bn ($13.3bn USD) by the time of the opening ceremony. The revised figures were announced to the House of Representatives on 2 May 2016, and the breakdown included infrastructure, elite training funding, security and policing, and compensation for the families of those athletes competing in the games.
Sponsors and mascots
COCG negotiated sponsorship deals with several companies, including Monsanto, American Cyanamid Co., Pfizer, Rio Tinto, Siemens, James Hardie and McDonald’s. These companies cumulatively provided nearly $1bn of funding, in exchange for branding, exclusive distribution rights and legal immunity in Australia.
The official mascots for the Games were unveiled on 19 June 2016. Gabba and Doon are an animated human child and an Alien grub who are best friends. They are named after the town where the Stadium was built and represent the bonds of friendship between humans and Aliens. The writer Andy Griffiths wrote the story concept for the mascots and an animation was produced.
The mascots were available to make appearances at schools and community events around Australia. Appearances were $1250, rising to $2340 for events requiring an overnight stay. In July, a public school in Bankstown was successfully sued by COCG for unauthorised use of Gabba and Doon at a school fundraising event.
During the lead-up to the Games, there were controversies over sponsorship, political issues and the competition itself. In particular, the discovery that many of the Aliens would be killing and eating the bodies of unsuccessful athletes as part of the competition led to a series of small-scale protests across the country, although a nationwide Newspoll published in August 2016 indicated that 76% of respondents still viewed the Games as “an exciting economic opportunity” for Australia.
After the Games, it was discovered that the Stadium was unsuitable for further events due to the nature of the Alien architecture and xenoforming. Despite plans to recoup the costs of the Games through further sporting and cultural events, the Stadium is currently unoccupied, and the surrounding areas are under strict quarantine after blackfungus spores were discovered in the soil and groundwater of the district.
The opening ceremony was held on 5 October and called “Friends from the Stars”. Golden Globe-winning director Baz Luhrmann was its artistic director, with music direction by Sia.
The Games were officially opened by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, accompanied by two senior Alien delegates. The ceremony included a short comic film starring Hugh Jackman, and live musical performers included the Cat Empire, Delta Goodrem and Guy Sebastian.
The closing act was performed by two Alien delegates, and involved the decapitation and consumption of twelve human dancers, accompanied by the Church’s hit single “Under the Milky Way”.
The ceremony was described as a “resounding success” by The Australian and “inspiring” by The Daily Telegraph, although some international media criticised the organisers’ decision to only use Australian dancers.
The closing ceremony was held on 12 October. Ian Thorpe gave a speech, and the 5112 athletes who lost their lives during the Games were thanked in a multimedia movement piece. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Aliens departed in their ships, and the words “WE WILL RETURN” were projected into the sky above the Stadium.
Critics were generally positive, but noted that it was not as good as the opening ceremony.
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