With the London Olympics just seven weeks away Olympic Ministry Award Receiptent Mark Tronson, the chairman of Well-Being Australia is writing a weekly series of articles leading up to this world gala event which encapsulates the nations of the world in sport, politics, economics, culture, benevolency and religion.
On ABC National radio news it was revealed that Tottenham had the better financial plan to take over the Olympic venue and would covert it to a Football stadium where the spectators are close to the action. The track and field running track would therefore be pulled-up.
The London Daily Telegraph meanwhile has revealed that the Tottenham-AEG consortium, as revealed by Telegraph Sport offered to pay for an upgrade of the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, providing 9,500 extra permanent seats to raise its capacity to 25,000 with the option of adding a further 15,000 seats to stage a World Championship.
West Ham's bid was the preferred bid although they would keep the athletic track and the International Olympic Committee it seems wants their views heard. The London Daily Telegraph quoted IOC Executive Board member Frankie Fredericks, who won four silver Olympic medals, said it was vitally important to retain the track in the stadium.
Infrastructure, Big Business, Big City
The news report noted that financial history is not on the side of West Ham's bid where money talks. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic stadium's athletic track was ripped up for the same reasons as Tottenham's, to turn the stadium into a Gridiron generic sport facility where the spectators are close top the action.
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson said that some years ago when his son was at school, they went to watch a Socceroo's match soon after the Sydney Olympics which was held at the Olympic venue. He noted that the athletic track in effect, distanced their view of the match from the action and in his view, it distorted the reason why they'd come. It would have been better had they stayed home in Moruya (a five hour car journey) and watched it on television.
As a field hockey man, hockey venues with their artificial pitches have followed the English Football models with the purpose built constructions with the spectator stands close to the action.
The view held by sport participants and supporters at the time were:
a) Football spectators will feel as though they would be the losers if West Ham gets the bid and retains the athletic track.
b) Those in Track and Field will felt the losers if Tottenham won the bid and they lose their 2012 London Olympic venue for an alternative.
Money counts and the Olympic City's exchequer
Mark Tronson said that the City of Montreal (1976 Olympics) is still paying for the privilege. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics changed all that. It was run as a profit making operation and they came away with such an outcome.
Every Olympic city is faced with these decisions. The Government of the day hands over these issues to 'committees of decision-makers' whose primary focus is financial not necessarily athletic although IOC requirements get met. For example, The Sydney Olympic Athletes Village was planned as a well-healed suburb for after the Olympics.
Mindful of such costs, the newly elected Queensland Government has revealed a new infrastructure policy for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. A fresh pro-active sensible audit of existing facilities is aimed at reducing new costly construction.
Ministry too faces these same considerations
Mark Tronson claims that Churches and Missions face the same sorts of issues in an Olympic City for their outreach programs. The clarion Gospel call is parallelled with fiscal considerations, yet led by faith to lengthen the chords of evangelism.
This is precisely what is happening in the London Olympics with the various Christian outreaches. For example, Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI) has people travelling to London from around the world at their own expense to speak of Jesus Christ in their lives in the 'Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach'.
Dr Sam Mings the President of LWFCI rightly says that this is in order for a ministry budget to be met which includes housing, meals, clothing, accreditation, transport and the like.
The parallels continue. A local British Christian network was required. To this end the Kingsway International Christian Centre in London, the largest parish church in London (12,000 congregants) has offered their facilities and services for the LWFCI 'Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach'. (au.christiantoday.com)
Moreover for Olympic Christian ministry, it is not only infrastructure, organisation, programs, rallies and the like. A more critical factor is involved. Prayer that the Holy Spirit will engulf the Mission's outcomes.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html