People who know me well are aware that I am only ever half joking when I say that I wish the British Empire still existed and that I would much prefer for the Commonwealth Games to revert to its original name, The Empire Games.
Whilst I have very little interest in sport (except that the Footscray Football Club is sitting on top of the AFL Ladder this week and my brother and I soon may have to confront the First World Problem of trying to secure Grand Final tickets), it is fair to say that the main purpose of the otherwise pointless Commonwealth Games (after all, it is not there for us to celebrate our membership of the British Empire anymore) is to give our athletes world class practice for the Olympics.
The purpose of the Olympic Games, of course, is to win Gold Medals. Our national identity demands that we triumph at the Olympics.
So we pour lots of money into the Australian Institute of Sport in the hope that we can set aside our parochialism (very visible at this time of pandemic) and celebrate victory over other nations who do not have the riches to pour money into their national skateboarding and BMX teams.
At the Commonwealth Games, we always prevail on account of that excessive funding, even over the Old Dart of England, let alone over small West Indian islands with sporting budgets smaller than those of the Phys Ed departments of our local high schools.
But the main game is the Olympics, where nothing but Gold will count, not so-so Silver, nor shameful Bronze. We get whipped into a frenzy by our media, our political leaders, and the whole sophisticated sports administration industry to expect Gold.
I was reading today that we expect to be competitive for 17 Gold Medals at these Olympics.
This is why the Australian Institute of Sport currently receives $420 million dollars in federal taxpayer funding. There is no other real purpose than the existential one of winning Gold at the Olympics, and continuing to exorcise the Devils which plagued us in 1976, the year of abject failure when we did not win any Gold.
So let us do some back of the envelope calculations.
- The Gold Medals are actually silver, but plated with 6 grams of gold.
- In recent Olympics we have won only 8 Gold Medals each time.
- Over a four year period, the Australian Institute of Sport receives a total of about $1.6 billion dollars in funding.
Ergo, each Olympic Gold Medal costs the Australian Taxpayer $200 million dollars.
That rounds out to just over $30 million per gram of gold in those medals. If you convert from metrics to imperial (please do), that comes out to approximately $1 billion per troy ounce.
That is something for us to cheer about as we watch our team compete at these Olympics.
After all, we have each invested quite a lot as a nation of taxpayers in getting those medals.
Only Gold ones of course. We don’t really care about silver or bronze.
I only wish that the real price of gold was close to the price for Olympic Gold. I do own shares in Evolution Mining after all.