The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are due to start in exactly one year come Wednesday – but what kind of Olympics will they be?
The politically-neutral, keep-your-views-to-yourself, get-on-with-the-Games type Olympics that were foreshadowed seven months ago, or the take-a-knee, politically correct, We-Race-As-One type event that has become prevalent in the post-George Floyd era?
Or, put another way, Woke Olympics or Bloke Olympics?
The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are due to start in exactly one year come Wednesday
Prime minister Shinzo Abe says it will be ‘impossible’ to go ahead if the virus isn’t contained
Pictured: An aerial view of New National Stadium for the Olympic Summer Games in 2021
Since the death of George Floyd in May, instances of athletes and major sporting organisations putting their weight behind political causes have become commonplace and, according to a recently released survey, the majority of Australian football fans don’t like it.
In recent months the AFL, rugby league, rugby union, soccer and Formula 1 have all shown support for political issues and, as other major sports such as the NBA and NFL re-emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown, they are expected to follow suit.
The one holdout is the International Olympic Committee but exactly 12 months out from a hoped-for Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, they too are showing signs of wavering.
In January, the IOC released its guidelines for Tokyo, banning any of the social awareness-type demonstrations that have become prevalent at sporting events since the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference,’ the IOC document said.
‘The focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance.’
To which, according to the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs, the majority of Australian footie fans would raise a beer and say, ‘Hear, hear.’
An organisation that describes itself as an ‘independent, non-profit public policy think-tank dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom’, the IPA last week released the results of a survey that showed the majority of Australian footy fans have had enough of their sport being hijacked by political causes.
The survey asked 1011 Australians aged between 18 and over-65 whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, ‘Sporting codes like the AFL and NRL have become too politically correct’.
A study from the Institute of Public Affairs revealed that Australians now think sport has become ‘too politically correct’. Pictured: Nic Naitanui of the West Coast Eagles (right) takes a knee alongside Gold Coast Suns’ players in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
The results showed that 51 percent agreed and only 17 percent disagreed. The rest neither agreed nor disagreed.
While the survey was conducted in December 2019 – five months before the death of George Floyd inspired the rise of Black Lives Matter – it followed a steady increase in the involvement of Australian football codes in political causes.
In 2014 the AFL placed an R symbol on the centre of every ground in support of the Recognition campaign to have Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution.
The 2017 NRL grand final was marred by controversy when US rapper Macklemore was invited to sing his gay anthem ‘One Love’ at the height of the country’s same-sex marriage referendum, with the-then Prime Minister Tony Abbott being one of many ‘old white dudes’ (as Macklemore dubbed them) who called unsuccessfully for the song to be banned.
And last year Rugby Australia was almost sent bankrupt after being ordered to pay a reported $4 million in compensation after sacking Wallabies star Israel Folau for making anti-gay statements on his personal social media accounts.
Macklemore (pictured) performs before the NRL grand final between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in 2017
Wallabies players Israel Folau (middle row centre) and Taniela Tupou (middle row second right) are seen with team mates during the team photograph before the team captains run at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Friday, September 7, 2018
Last year Rugby Australia was almost sent bankrupt after being ordered to pay a reported $4 million in compensation after sacking Wallabies star Israel Folau for making anti-gay statements on his personal social media accounts
All of which has combined to frustrate and anger fans who are tired of athletes and organisations using sport as a platform to make political statements, says Morgan Begg, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.
‘Australians have had a gutful of their favourite past-times being dominated by the narrow obsessions of Australia’s sporting elite,’ he said following the release of the survey results.
‘Australians watch the footy to watch footy, not to get woke sermons about what political or moral views they should hold.
‘This poll reveals the divisions between the corporate elite who control organisations like the AFL, and the community which is expected to accept the AFL’s posturing as an additional price of being members or fans of footy clubs.
‘The AFL spent millions supporting the ‘Recognise’ campaign which supported the divisive proposal to divide Australians by race in the constitution, only to have it rejected by Indigenous Australians. Rugby Australia alienated their own fans by persecuting Israel Folau for his religious beliefs.
‘Footy is an escape from politics. Fans shouldn’t have politically correct virtue signalling thrown in their face.’
It is a view that will attract plenty of support – US President Donald Trump has vowed not to watch the NFL if players ‘take a knee’ when the sport resumes after the Coronavirus disruption, and Max Verstappen and five other Formula 1 drivers who chose to remain standing before the first race of the season this month were largely applauded.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain takes a knee beside drivers prior the the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix race at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod on July 19
Lewis Hamilton later criticised Formula 1 for a ‘rushed’ pre-race anti-racism display after several other drivers did not take a knee
Explaining his reasons for not dropping to one knee along with protest organiser Lewis Hamilton and 13 other drivers, Verstappen said, ‘I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism, but I believe everyone has the right to express himself at a time and in a way that suits them,’ he wrote.
‘I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes.’
He and his fellow holdouts received plenty of public support online, but it appears they could be fighting a losing battle.
Sporting organisations aligning themselves to high-profile social issues is smart business, with major sponsors keen to be seen as good corporate citizens.
Bubba Wallace, 26, was overwhelmed with the support he received from his fellow NASCAR drivers in his native Alabama
In recent weeks when Daniel Snyder, owner of NFL team the Washington Redskins refused to change its nickname despite claims that it was offensive to native Americans, major sponsors threatened to walk and Amazon, Nike, Walmart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods refused to sell its merchandise. The name was changed last week.
Less overt – and denied by both parties – was the rumoured influence that major sponsor Qantas had on Rugby Australia’s costly decision to tear up Israel Folau’s contract.
But even if, as he claimed, Qantas boss Alan Joyce did not actively pressure since-sacked Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle to dismiss Folau, his views were well known following his very public support of the Yes vote during the marriage equality debate.
There is great irony in the fact that one of the last major sporting organisations to maintain a ban on its athletes making political statements during competition is the IOC, given that the issue first came to light when US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos (supported by Australian silver medallist Peter Norman) gave Black Power salutes on the podium at the 1968 Olympics.
USA team mates Tommie Smith (centre) and John Carlos (right) give the ‘Black Power’ salute next to Peter Norman (left) of Australia who won the silver medal at the Mexico city Olympics in 1968
The guidelines released by IOC in January specifically forbade athletes from making any kind of ‘political, religious or racial’ protest or demonstration in Tokyo but, of course, that was before the death of George Floyd and the postponement of the Games until next year.
By last month Olympics boss Thomas Bach was already showing signs of softening his attitude, saying the athletes should find a way to demonstrate in a ‘dignified manner.’
It will be interesting to see how the IOC – and its $1.8 billion worth of sponsors including Coke, Samsung, Toyota and Visa – will define ‘dignified’ by the time the Opening Ceremony comes around.
Last month Olympics boss Thomas Bach was already showing signs of softening his attitude to political gestures, saying the athletes should find a way to demonstrate in a ‘dignified manner’
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John Farnham hits back after his iconic song was used in Melbourne’s anti-lockdown protest rally
The long-time manager of Australian music icon John Farnham has blasted anti-lockdown protesters after they performed one of his biggest hits during a rally.
Almost 700 protesters had vowed to swarm Melbourne’s CBD on Sunday for a mass demonstration against the Victorian government’s strict coronavirus restrictions for what organisers touted as ‘biggest protest yet’.
Instead, a small group gathered at Chadstone Shopping Centre in the city’s south-east, where about 50 demonstrators stood outside the Coles supermarket singing Farnham’s 1980s number one hit and Aussie anthem ‘You’re The Voice’.
One man held a guitar and others waved their phones in the air during the five minute singalong before the group scattered in different directions as police arrived.
Farnham’s manager Glenn Wheatley condemned the use of the music icon’s songs in anti-lockdown protests, adding it was against the wishes of the legendary performer.
John Farnham (pictured at the Falls festival in Fremantle in January) has distanced himself away from Sunday’s anti-lockdown protest, where one of his biggest hits was performed
He fears the public will assume Farnham personally endorses the protests happening across Melbourne in recent weeks when he actually opposes the demonstrations.
‘It’s something that John and I do not condone, the use of that song, particularly in a time in Melbourne where we are in Stage Four lockdown,’ Mr Wheatley told The Age.
It comes five years after Farnham and his manager spoke out against his song being used by anti-Islamic group Reclaim Australia during demonstrations.
‘It was not meant to be a protest song, it was meant to be used as an inspirational song for nations and for people, not in a situation of what was an illegal protest,’ Mr Wheatley said.
‘I want to reiterate we support people’s right to protest, but there’s circumstances where the protest can be done, and taking to the streets of Melbourne today is not it.`
He told Seven News: ‘It’s very offensive to John and I that they choose to use You’re the Voice as a theme to this protest.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Wheatley for comment.
It’s not the first time John Farnham’s hits have been used by anti-lockdown protesters. he’s pictured performing at Fire Fight Australia at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium in February
A handful of protesters gathered inside Chadstone Shopping Centre, in Melbourne’s inner southeast, to sing John Farnham’s ‘You’re the Voice’ on Sunday after before scattering when police arrived
Anti Lockdown protesters wearing masks inscribed with ‘come and take it’ are seen in Chadstone Shopping Centre on September 20
Farnham is among the five million Melburnians currently living on Stage Four lockdown laws.
You’re The Voice was Australia’s biggest hit in 1986, and ranked number six in radio station Triple M’s ‘Ozzest 100’ most Australian songs of all time in 2018.
It’s not the first time Farnham’s songs have been used during anti-lockdown protests.
A man was arrested last week after he bellowed the iconic hit to more than 10 police officers in Melbourne‘s Royal Botanic Gardens.
‘Are we going to sit in silence and sit in fear?’ he shouted as three officers ripped away his megaphone and grabbed his flag pole.
‘What for? What for?’ he shouts as they tackled him to the ground.
Earlier this month, neighbours in a Melbourne suburban street protest conducted a legal protest from their homes by playing some of Farnham’s biggest hits from their front yards.
That’s Freedom, Chain Reaction and You’re the Voice were selected as the Farnsy classics to be played.
A livestreamed video posted on TikTok showed the darkened street coming to life where several neighbours can be seen standing in their driveways blasting Farnham’s hits.
Protesters waved their phones in the air as they chanted ‘we’re not going to sit in silence’ with some pulling off their masks to sing a long
A second video of Sunday’s protest at Chadstone showed police officers flooding into the centre, at which point protesters had already dispersed.
Despite the rally lasting less than five minutes, an organiser said the flash protest was a ‘victory’ because police were caught off-guard.
‘We were able to get in and out in about 50 minutes with so far no known arrests or fines,’ the organiser told the Herald Sun.
‘However Victoria Police spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on PORT for today. We consider it their fine for opposing our freedom.
‘We’re going to relish in this victory.’
The group were instructed to regather for another protest at Footscray Market, on the opposite side of the city, but the plan fell through.
Members of Victoria Police patrol through Chadstone Shopping to break up a group of singing protesters but the group had already dispersed
The group could be seen holding up a flag as they paraded through the complex protesting Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions
Police swarmed into the centre (pictured) but the demonstrators had already fled the scene, with a plan to regather at Fitzroy Markets
A row then erupted among protesters over a lack of direction.
They were accompanied by hundreds of general police, who quickly set up road blocks in and out of Chadstone, and checked people’s licenses as they left the shopping centre.
One man was detained and taken to a room in the centre for questioning after being asked to be escorted away from the media.
Two people were arrested and six fines have been issued as a result of the unlawful gathering.
‘Police will continue to play an important role in enforcing the directions of the Chief Health Officer and contributing to limiting the spread of the coronavirus,’ a Victoria police spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We acknowledge and appreciate the vast majority of the community who are doing the right thing. It is only a very small number of people that still choose to put the rest of the community at risk through their selfish behaviour.’
Victoria police vowed to continue taking actions against those who breach the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
Police will also continue to investigate those who attended Sunday’s rally.
At least five Public Order Response teams arrived on the scene as security began turning shoppers away from entering the centre
A group of masked and gloved police officers entered the complex in search of the ‘freedom day’ protesters
Security personnel guard the entrance to the shopping centre after the protest in Melbourne’s inner southeast on Sunday
Screenshots of message exchanges between demonstrators were later shared on Twitter, with organisers expressing disappointment the Fitzroy Market rally had fizzled.
Another leaked correspondence showed protesters discussing how Footscray Markets were closed on Sunday, with someone offering Blackburn Lake, 11km north of Chadstone, as an alternative.
However, a discussion in one group chat claimed news of the second protest was fake, made only to throw off police so those left in Chadstone could escape.
‘There are no more [protests] for today unfortunately. We had a successful protest but conditions didn’t allow the second one,’ a person using the alias Be Water wrote.
But when asked by a fellow protester if that meant they should ‘just disperse’, the same author changed tune.
‘We wanted to move people out of Chadstone so that anyone stuck ‘shopping’ could leave, so we announced Footscray,’ Be Water added.
Organisers have been planning Sunday’s flash protest over the past week using encrypted messages, with attendees ordered to remain within 10 minutes of the main location so they could stream to the area in unison.
A photo shared online shows the poster issued to protesters instructing them to head to Chadstone Shopping Centre
Screenshots of message exchanges between demonstrators were later shared on Twitter, with organisers expressing disappointment the Fitzroy Market rally had fizzled
Protesters discussed whether Blackburn Lake, 11km north of Chadstone, could be an alternative after hearing the Footscray Markets were not open
In another group chat, one protester claimed news of the second protest was fake, made only to throw off police so those left in Chadstone could escape
The details of the location were released 30 minutes prior to the rally.
In an Instagram poster promoting the event, organisers vowed to ‘flow like water’ during the main protest.
Scouts and rogue cops will reportedly be feeding information about where police are conducting patrols.
‘We are exceptionally thankful to the small number of Victoria Police officers who came forward and are willing to provide information,’ an organiser said.
It comes a day after up to 150 protesters descended on Elwood and Elsternwick Park in Brighton on Saturday, resulting in 21 fines and 16 arrests.
The encrypted messages are being used to announce the ‘flash protests’ and to attempt to avoid police finding out the location of the planned rally
Melbourne remains in a Stage Four lockdown, meaning residents cannot leave their houses without a valid reason, and restrictions are in place to limit movement more than 5km from a person’s home.
The restrictions and both a State of Emergency and State of Disaster have been extended a further four weeks.
Multiple rallies have taken place in Melbourne over the past few weekends, with Victoria police responding with a heavy presence – handing out dozens of fines and making arrests.
Victoria recorded 14 new cases and five deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since June and the tenth day in a row the state has recorded a daily infections increase below 50.
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War veteran grandad, 89, dies after ‘being king hit by a fellow nursing home resident’
An 89-year-old grandfather has died days after being ‘king hit’ at his nursing home by another resident and suffering a broken neck, his family claims.
War veteran Robert Driver had been in his walker at the Macquarie View aged care facility at Bolton Point, Lake Macquarie, NSW, about 7pm when a dementia patient allegedly hit him from behind, knocking him to the ground.
‘That evening my father was hit from behind by another client of the dementia ward in a totally unprovoked and surprise attack,’ daughter Julie-Anne Jones told the Sunday Telegraph.
Macquarie View aged care facility at Bolton Point, Lake Macquarie, NSW where the shocking alleged attack occurred on the evening of August 20
The family was told that the person who hit Mr Driver was known to be aggressive and had recently been transferred from another facility, Mrs Jones said.
Mrs Jones said her father, a former army lieutenant who also served with the RAAF was not taken to hospital immediately after the punch on August 20, but instead was put to bed for the evening.
The following day-he had difficulty breathing and a stiff neck and was taken to John Hunter Hospital, where it was discovered his neck was broken.
The break was in a critical juncture of the cervical cord which affected his breathing, and the hospital told the family they did not expect Mr Driver to survive.
He was transferred back to the nursing home to die, which he did on August 25, five days after being punched.
A post-mortem showed Mr Driver died from a cervical spinal injury and police are investigating the death.
NSW Police are investigating the alleged attack by a dementia patient in a nursing home
‘Why was my father put to bed and not taken directly to hospital? Everyone knows if you have a concussion you do not lay down,’ Mrs Jones said.
‘We want accountability for this incident. This was totally preventable.’
Daily Mail Australia contacted aged care home operator Bolton Clarke for a response on Sunday.
Bolton Clarke chief operating officer David Swain told the Sunday Telegraph that management were working with both NSW Police and with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission after the incident.
Mr Swain said both men had been residents of the special care dementia unit for residents with higher needs.
Registered nurses were on site and available at all hours, supported by clinical teams, he said, and a staff member had been present and responded immediately.
NSW Police said the alleged attack took place at 7pm on August 20, they were awaiting the results of the post mortem and that a report would be prepared for the coroner.
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Barrister slammed for ‘offensive’ number plate – but he says nearly NO ONE knows what it means
A high profile barrister was ordered to give up customised number plates on his bright yellow Lamborghini because they were deemed too offensive.
But Peter Lavac, from Palm Beach in Sydney’s northern beaches, successfully challenged the Transport NSW order in the local court on September 1.
Mr Lavac said 99 out of 100 people wouldn’t know that the letters ‘LGOPNR’ meant ‘leg opener’ – and that he was just ‘taking the p***’ out of himself.
‘How can anyone be offended by something if they don’t know what the f*** it means?’ he asked The Sunday Telegraph.
High profile barrister Peter Lavac was ordered by Transport NSW to hand in his customised number plates (pictured), which read LGOPNR, after they were deemed too offensive because the letters stood for ‘leg opener’
The former Hong Kong crown prosecutor, who has brought down gangsters and murderers during his career, said he resented anyone who tried to ‘violate’ his freedom of speech.
He said the yellow and gold number plates were ‘tongue-in-cheek’ before slamming the ‘ridiculous woke movement fanatics’.
Mr Lavac successfully argued Transport NSW used outdated legislation and the letters weren’t offensive.
‘How could you possibly construe recreational sex between two consenting adults as ever being offensive or demeaning in any way, shape or form?’ he said.
Despite the ruling in Mr Lavac’s favour, Transport NSW still want the number plates banned – and the barrister said he was ready to continue the fight.
Mr Lavac (pictured) successfully argued Transport NSW used outdated legislation in their order and that the letters weren’t offensive but the department is determined to get the plates back
‘How many other little Aussie battlers who have similar bullying letters, have caved in and laid down and let (Transport NSW) walk all over them because they didn’t have my resources or legal expertise to stand up to this and challenge them?’ he said.
The high profile barrister said the idea came during a chat with some mates who suggested the number plates should refer to his playboy reputation.
He said there was no problem with his design when he submitted the application in 2019 and accused the department of being ‘bureaucratic bullies’.
Transport NSW Safety, Environment and Regulation deputy secretary Tara McCarthy said it often took time for the department to pick up on offensive content.
Mr Lavac said it was ‘tough s***’ for anyone who found his number plates offensive.
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