- Where are the People?? – The Other Side of a Major Event
Before the Games, the effects of these traffic restrictions were a hot topic among my friends and acquaintances. The ones who get to work by car, for example, wondered whether they would just leave home earlier than usual because of the anticipated traffic jams. As the traffic restrictions were expected to cause such heavy traffic, companies made a variety of special work arrangements. Some companies let their employees work at home because of the difficulty getting to work, some changed their work hours, some closed their offices and worked only with email and phone, while companies particularly affected by the traffic restrictions announced delivery delays, and kindergartens and the like announced they would close during the Games.
So, once the Games started, what actually happened with the traffic jams everyone was worried about??
Well, quite a lot of people said the streets were empty, although they did go to work 2 hours earlier than usual. I don’t commute any more, but I did go out in my car during the games to do some shopping and so on, but as usual there were no traffic jams, which made me think that the Games must have already started. Although there was a bit of heavy traffic near the Games venues, it didn’t affect work and school commuters, which was a bit of an anti-climax for everyone. The big shopping centers were a little busier than usual, but the lower numbers of people walking around town, or catching trains and trams was unexpected. Apparently, some hotels in the main tourist centers of the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, had vacancies. Some restaurants were busy, but it seems that others were completely empty.
A newspaper article with the headline “Where are the people?" said a certain restaurant in Surfers Paradise that is always busy with regular customers and tourists had days during the Games when they only took $150 (about 13,000 yen) in sales, while a rental bicycle shop had half of their usual income, and taxi drivers commented that the Gold Coast was very quiet. The article went on to say that one of the reasons for this unexpected development was that the authorities had convinced residents with their heads-up about the traffic restrictions for the Games, that very heavy traffic was predicted, and it would be better to keep away from the Gold Coast during the Games.
The end result was unexpected, but there were no terrorist incidents, and the Games safely came to their conclusion at the closing ceremony.
Although, if there was an incident, you could say it was media reporting of 12 African competitors who went missing. According to the Games organizers, there was the possibility that competitors from Rwanda and Uganda disappeared on April 12. It seems possible that being from countries where the political situation is unsettled, they used the Games as an opportunity to seek asylum.
It looks like this too was a case of “Where are the people?”