Gold Coast 2018’s plans for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in three years’ time have come under fire after they appointed American company Jack Morton Worldwide (JMW) following a tender process.
The decision prompted the three losing bidders to write a scathing letter to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczu to contest the appointment.
Led by Olympics creative director Ric Birch, who co-ordinated the ceremonies at the 1982 Brisbane Games as well as the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the group, which also includes unsuccessful bidders David Atkins and Julie Brooks, have called for a review of the process.
It was eventually won by JMW, which has also attracted criticism as the losing bidders feel there are local Australian companies who would do a better job of the Ceremonies.
JMW’s London office conceived, planned, and delivered the Opening and Closing ceremonies for the last edition of the Commonwealth Games, held last year in Glasgow, while they also produced both Ceremonies at Athens 2004.
“It is obviously extremely unusual for three companies in this highly competitive field to be in agreement and is a sign of the deep disquiet we feel about the way that GOLDOC has handled the tender,” the letter, obtained by the Australian Associated Press (AAP), read.
“By any standard, the members of the evaluation panel for this tender were totally inexperienced in all matters pertaining to major international ceremonies and the three companies represented here were all amazed at the lack of representation from the GOLDOC board or the chief executive on the evaluation panel.”
The decision to appoint JMW has been described as a “slap in the face” by opposition party the Liberal National Party, with a spokesperson claiming “we know there’s some home-grown Queensland and Australian companies who could do this job standing on their head”.
Gold Coast 2018 head of communications Marcus Taylor refuted such claims, however, insisting no teams bid from within Queensland.
He also said the winning bid came from JMW’s Australian branch.
“People have to remember it is an Australian company for one but the expectation is this is going to a global audience and therefore you want companies with a global footprint because you want to be drawing on the best in the world,” Taylor told the AAP.
“The contractors and the programme itself will all be driven out of the Gold Coast and Queensland markets.”