Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018 Risk Summary

The Commonwealth Games is set to begin in Gold Coast, Australia on 04 April 2018. Travel to the country brings a unique set of challenges and issues to overcome. For more on the Games, how to prepare and, what to expect when travelling to Australia, please take a look at our risk summary below or download this information as a PDF from the following link: Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Risk Summary – Event Advisory


  • Estimated Population: 638,000 (Gold Coast, 2015)
  • Geographic Area: 414.3 Km²
  • Language: English (de facto)
  • Religion: Predominantly Christian or non-religious.
  • Climate: Humid, Sub-tropical.
  • GMT: +10 (Queensland)
  • Capital: Canberra
  • Currency: Australian Dollar
  • Emergency Services: 000 or 112


COUNTRIES: 70 70 countries and territories are scheduled to send athletes to the 2018 Games. The Maldives were scheduled to attend, but withdrew from the Commonwealth in October 2016. ATHLETES: 6,600 6,600 athletes and officials are anticipated to attend the games. The event is the first international event to have an equal number of events for men and women. TICKETS: 1.5MILLION Approximately 1.5 million spectators are expected at the games, with over 1.25 million tickets presently sold. All ticket holders will receive free local public transport on the date(s) of the event(s) which they are attending. SECURITY: 10,000  4,000 privately licenced security personnel are due to be deployed for Gold Coast 2018. Additionally, six thousand police and military personnel will be on duty providing services from counter terroism support, to air defence. OLYMPIC VENUES: 17 The events for the Games will be in the vicinity of the Gold Coast. The majority of events are hosted within the city, however some venues are located in Brisbane, Cairns, and Townsville.
EVENT LOCATION INFORMATION Gold Coast is the primary location and host for the Commonwealth Games. However, events will also be held in other cities. These include Brisbane, Cairns, and Townsville, all located in the state of Queensland. Gold Coast: The Gold Coast is situated in the southeast of the     state of Queensland, bordering the state of New South Wales,  and stretches along 57km of coastline. The area is home to over half a million people and enjoys 300 sunny days per annum. Gold Coast is renowned for its surfing beaches, high-rise dominated skyline, and nightlife; the area of Surfers Paradise is a hub for Australia’s tourist industry. The city is integral to Australia’s entertainment industry, with major television, film, and music production industries present; Gold Coast has been dubbed “Australia’s Hollywood”. Away from the city’s beaches are vast, sub-tropical rainforests. Brisbane: Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the state of Queensland, and the third most populous in the country. The city’s metropolitan area is home to 2.4 million people and by some estimates is the country’s fastest-growing city. Brisbane is a modern, industrial, and culturally diverse metropolis. The city is business focussed and not one of Australia’s prime tourist cities. Brisbane has hosted a series of international events, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo, and the G20 summit in 2014. Brisbane sits on the Brisbane River, with flooding having caused significant damage in the past, notably in 2011. The city faces a water shortage with local water restrictions calling for four minute showers. There are several consulates in the city offering diplomatic support including the consulates of the United Kingdom and China. Cairns: Cairns is located in tropical north Queensland and is known as a laidback tourist destination. The city is home to 140,000 people and is gateway to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and other tourist attractions. The city is surrounded by rainforest and can be used as a hub to destinations such as the Daintree rainforest, the Atherton tablelands, and Cape Tribulation, Townsville: Townsville is a coastal city located in north eastern Queensland and is home to around 200,000 people. The city is less-visited than some of its north Queensland neighbours. Townsville offers excellent access to the Outback, the rainforest of the Paluma Range, the Great Barrier Reef, and Magnetic Island.
  • Gold Coast Airport is the official airport of the Games. It operates domestically (to larger cities including Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne) and some regional flights including to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and several locations in New Zealand.
  • Gold Coast Airport is served by a number of public bus services, a designated licensed taxi pick-up zone (with taxis from Queensland and New South Wales), and SkyBus, which operated daily services between the airport and more than 500 Gold Coast hotels. The airport is located at the southern end of Gold Coast, around 25km from Surfers Paradise. It is the sixth busiest airport in Australia and the busiest outside of a state capital.
  • Brisbane airport is around an hour to an hour and a half’s drive north of Gold Coast and offers more international routes. Cairns also hosts an international airport with regional links to Papua New Guinea, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and a host of domestic locations including Sydney and Melbourne. Townsville Airport is only served by domestic flights with facilities shared with the Australian Defence Forces.
  • Free travel is provided to athletes, volunteers, and spectators on the day of their ticketed event and up to 0300hrs the day after. Public transport is provided through the train, tram (G:link), and Games shuttle bus travel. Most public transport services are accessible with spaces available for wheelchairs and mobility devices. Extra buses and routes are being put on to provide transport to the Games events and sights of interest in Gold Coast. Free public transport is also available in Brisbane, Cairns, and Townsville for the relevant Translink and connect bus services. In Gold Coast, public transport will run every 15 minutes or better during peak hours to eliminate long waiting times.
  • Given the proximity of hotels to Games locations, cycling is an option for visitors to Gold Coast. The area hosts more than 1,000km of on-road and off-road bikeways. There are also a number of cycle park locations set up close to competition venues. Cycles will not be allowed on public buses during the Games period, however.
  • There are a limited number of pre-booked park ‘n’ ride spaces available. This may prove useful as there will be either no or limited parking within the vicinity of Games venues. The park ‘n’ ride service is available to Commonwealth Games ticket holders only.

  • Medical provision in Australia is considered one of the best in the world. However , it can be expensive, especially without insurance.
  • All travellers to the Games should visit their doctor at least six to eight weeks before arriving in Australia.
  • Travellers should ensure that they are up to date with all routine vaccinations before travelling, this includes tetanus, polio, and measles, mumps and rubella.
  • Other recommended vaccinations may include: hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, typhoid, and rabies (Bat Lyssavirus).
  • Certain travellers may also be required to provide a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
  • Outbreaks of the mosquito-borne dengue fever have been reported in the state of Queensland. When outbreaks occur, they usually take place in the north of the state. Travellers should use a insect repellent containing DEET twice a day, wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and sleep in a mosquito net if travelling to an affected area. There is no vaccination or medication to prevent contracting dengue.
  • There is a small ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A in the state of Victoria. As of 06 March 2018, a total of 65 cases (58 confirmed) with one death has been reported since November 2017. Many of the cases have identified as men who have sex with men. While the outbreak has not spread to Queensland at the time of writing, this remains a possibility.
  • Travellers to the Games should take the necessary precaution against sun- and heat-related illnesses. Sun creams with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above and 4 or 5 star UVA (ultraviolet A) protection should be used. Sunscreen should be applied liberally at least 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and then reapplied at least every two hours and also after swimming, exercise, and towel drying. Exposure to the sun should be limited between 1100hrs and 1500hrs as this is when UV rays are generally most powerful. Travellers should also ensure that they drink plenty of fluids.
  • If taking long-term prescribed medication, travellers should contact their local Australian diplomatic mission to ensure that the import of such medication does not contravene any local laws. Travellers should also ensure that they maintain the original prescription (in English if possible) and that they have more than enough to cover the length of their stay.

  • All travellers should expect equal treatment, regardless of social status. This should not be taken as a sign of naivety or disrespect.
  • It is generally considered rude not to pay an even split of any food or entertainment bill, or to refrain from buying a round of drinks in a bar if you have been included in previous rounds.
  • If invited to an Australian’s home for a meal, or the ubiquitous barbeque, it is expected to bring wine or beer for the hosts. Calling before hand to offer anything else is likely to be appreciated.
  • Communication is typically direct. Humorous or occasionally rude language is normal within conversation.
  • Tipping is not mandatory, but a tip of approximately 10 per cent is common in restaurants. In less formal settings, such as shops or cafés, servers may simply be told to “keep the change”.
  • The political situation regarding Australia’s aboriginal indigenous peoples is often tense or controversial. It is generally advisable to avoid bringing this up in casual conversation.
  • Business dress remains formal or semi-formal; for meetings men generally wear shirts and jackets, and women, typically modest dresses. Climatic conditions may lead to this being somewhat relaxed.
  • Greetings and introductions are often carried out with handshakes and on first-name terms. The use of titles and family names is unlikely in the majority of situations, and insisting on their use may come across negatively.
  • Punctuality is expected for business purposes, arriving slightly early is generally well received.
  • Business cards are exchanged without ritual. If your Australian counterpart does not offer any, they may simply not have one, no offence is intended.
  • Australian society generally places value on openness and honesty. Respectfully raising a problem is highly unlikely to cause offence, and will permit a mutual effort to resolve it. Equally, expect to be told openly if you are seen to have done something wrong, this is not intended to offend you.
  • Any effort to conduct a hard-sell is unlikely to be well received. Australians are likely to be more receptive to a direct but relaxed discussion of pertinent facts and details.
  • Small talk is rarely seen as beneficial in business settings and is not required before forming a business relationship.

  • Discount Tickets: Organised criminal groups mass-purchase event or attraction tickets with stolen credit cards, then sell them on at substantially below market price to tourists. Most attractions now check tickets against purchasers ID or card details, turning away ticketholders if the details do not match. Avoid buying significantly cut-price tickets.
  • Fake Tour Operators: Tourists have been targeted by fake tour guides who charge visitors for tours of free, openly accessible areas. They generally target non-English speakers, who may be unable to differentiate between official and fake signage. Others may charge for photos near major landmarks, or intentionally provide substandard or unregistered accommodation. They may also intentionally guide tourists into businesses owned by family or colleagues.
  • Passport Extortion: Unregistered tour operators have been known to collect travellers travel documents for the duration of tours, refusing to return them until a certain value of purchases have been made from affiliated businesses. Travellers should never surrender travel documents to tour operators.
  • Taxis Parked in Front of Your Hotel: In front of many four & five-star hotels there are taxis waiting all day. Despite appearances, these taxis are not associated with the hotel. These drivers may not switch on their meters when picking up passengers and instead insist on an excessive charge whilst already in motion. Travellers should be aware of taxis which wait outside of hotels. If you need a taxi, ask your hotel to order one for you from a reputable company and ensure they meter your journey. If the vehicle has a meter, it should be used. Taxi drivers have also been reported as taking intentionally extended journeys in order to overcharge fares.
  • Fake “Monks”: Individuals or small groups attempt to force some sort of valueless charm upon passers-by and then pursue them for a “donation” payment in return. They often affect religious clothing in order to give a veneer of legality, or may be indigenous people passing off fake charms or totems. Do not let people force items upon you, and continue to firmly refuse them while walking away.
  • Betting Scams: Fake betting events have been reported across Australia in relation to major sporting events, typically in relation to horse racing events. It is highly likely that similar scams will be established in the build-up to the Games, seeking to capitalise on the influx of travellers.

SECURITY SUMMARY Australia is a broadly safe country, geographically remote from many of the world’s violent hotspots. That said, the nation remains an important western partner, both politically and militarily, and this has led to concerns about vulnerability to attacks by Islamist extremism. Policing with regards to this issue has been generally affective, although a number of incidents have occurred, generally involving self-radicalised Islamists. Violent crime is uncommon, and when it occurs, it is generally related to pre-existing grievances between individuals, or as a result of the illegal drugs trade. In Australia, outlaw biker gangs form the main criminal group related to both violent attacks and narcotics. They are highly unlikely to target foreigners. Petty crime may prove to be an issue in any urban area, particularly those known to attract a high number of tourists. The Games in Gold Coast are likely to exacerbate this. Pickpockets and opportunistic theft should be expected, and appropriate measures, including maintaining situational awareness, and avoiding overt display of valuables, are recommended. The Australian government has intermittently strained relations with the indigenous populations and some migrant groups. This occasionally manifests in the form of street protests in major cities, particularly around national holidays, or in response to particular government action which are deemed potentially discriminatory. The security risk to travellers during the Games is LOW. Personal security measures should be implemented to a similar standard as in any western city.
GENERAL TRAVEL ADVICE Although Australia is considered safe (especially in terms of crime and terrorist threat), it is advisable to remain aware of your surroundings to at least the same degree as you would in any other developed country. Take extra care of passports, credit cards, and wallets/purses when in crowded or tourist areas. Take extra care when travelling alone or at night, and make sure to use a legitimate means of transport such as public transport or metered taxis. Be sure to carry a form of ID as well as details of your next of kin. Avoid carrying any valuables in a backpack as this is an easy target for thieves. Travellers seeking to venture more widely around the Games are advised to consider that communications, shelter, and water supplies may be very limited beyond urban areas. Travellers should be aware of sea safety. Do not go in the water when the shark flag is raised and those who are not strong swimmers should be cautious of strong currents and rip tides. It is important that the instructions of beach personnel is adhered to. Australia maintains strict control over imports and exports, particularly of animal and plant produce, in an effort to minimise threats to its unique ecosystem. This is extended to the personal items brought by private travellers. It is recommended to review the access requirements via the Australian embassy or government website before travel. Any controlled materials are likely to be confiscated and destroyed, with fines raised against the traveller.