The 2018 Commonwealth Games, which started on April 4th is currently being held on Australia’s Gold Coast, and runs until April 15th. Just a few weeks ago, our blog post was on the growing popularity of native flora, which shone so brightly under the international spotlight back in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. So given that the Gold Coast has been playing host to the Commonwealth Games recently, it came as a bit of surprise to many I’m sure, that no bouquets of flowers were given to the medal winners.
Traditionally , all medal winners at sporting events have been presented with a bouquet of unique native flora, and it provides a wonderful platform for local growers and businesses in the process.
It is estimated that Queensland growers alone have missed out on approximately $12 million worth of business opportunities after the Commonwealth Games organisers made the decision to cut the Australian flower gift bouquets. Instead, the medal winners were gifted a plush toy, a decision that has angered many within the flower industry, frustrated at the wasted opportunity to showcase what the State, and Country has on offer.
This fight has been going on for the last two years, with Flower Association of Queensland executive officer Shane Holborn working tirelessly to get flowers presented at the Games. And unbelievably, the flower association even offered to provide the flowers for free. They were certain that the opportunity to turn the spotlight on our Native Flora and provide world wide exposure, would have had a profound long term affect on the industry.
“It was not about selling the flowers to them – we even offered the flowers to them for free,” Mr Holborn said.
“Media from all around the world would have seen what we have to offer,” Mr Holborn continued.
A spokesperson from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation said that the decision to given the plush toy rather than flowers was made so that the medallists could take the special memento home with them, something that could not be done with flowers for biosecurity reasons.
It certainly does seem a shame given that in the past a gift in addition to flowers has been presented like in Glasgow where medallists received a two handled drinking cup/bowl (a quaint) as well as an arrangement. In total 590 flower arrangements were created and presented.
There is a large flower industry growing in Bundaberg, and many more growers sprinkled through the state of Queensland, so this would have presented a fantastic business opportunity and exposure. Certainly for any florist designing and creating arrangements for the Games would have been a fantastic experience also.
Whilst the challenges with biosecurity can be understood, the medallists go home with quite a magnificent memento as it is, and it seems a shame to miss such a stellar opportunity for an industry which so often does it really hard. For anyone who works in agriculture, or commercial growing of any kind, it is such a hard slog, and is so often affected by forces far beyond your control. It certainly would have been a much needed boost to an industry that has it’s fair share of challenges.
What do you think? Did you notice the absence of flower bouquets at the games like I did?
Feature image Credit: Backcreek Country