Thousands of athletes and officials will begin descending on the Gold Coast next week, so what better way to iron out last minute kinks in the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village than invite the media to a slumber party?
A bus load of journalists, camera operators, photographers and I were ferried into the purpose-built precinct to get a taste of what’s ahead for the athletes.
Most of us don’t look like we could run out of sight on a dark night, but we were greeted and treated like we were the real deal.
The village has gone into lockdown, so our first challenge was to navigate the security screening process which was as stringent as flying domestically in Australia.
With our bags and sagging bodies scanned, and the accreditation process complete, we are shown to our rooms.
Five-star luxury it isn’t.
The one, two and three-bedroom apartments contain two single beds in each room and athletes share a single toilet and shower.
More than 6,000 athletes and officials will stay in the village which is located beside the Gold Coast University Hospital and Griffith University campus at Parklands.
The village sits on a 29-hectare site which was once the home of the Gold Coast Show Society.
There are 1,170 apartments and 82 townhouses, but the precinct doesn’t feel cramped, because there are 7 hectares of open parklands.
It has all the necessities to sustain the short-term visitors with a 24-hour medical clinic, offering optometry and dental facilities.
There’s a 97-piece gymnasium and athlete recovery centre with physiotherapists and masseurs on hand.
Athletes can pick up some condoms in the lobby of one building while they’re grabbing a towel for the pool.
Speaking of condoms, there are 100,000 available during the games.
We did the math — that’s just over 16 condoms per person due to stay in the village.
There’s even a smoothie bar and hairdressing salon, while the athlete’s lounge offers arcade games and pool tables.
Australian discus and hammer thrower Matthew Denny said there was no danger he would become distracted by the luxuries of village life.
“We’ve prepared for it, we’ve done it before so you’ve just got to focus on the task at hand,” he said.
An enormous dining hall has been built to prepare and serve the 20,000 meals the athletes are expected to eat each day.
It’s predicted 800,000 pieces of fruit will be eaten during the Games, and more than 100,000 eggs will be cracked.
Denny, who competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016, said he was impressed with the village.
“It feels just like home, everything is clean and you just feel like you’re in a little city,” he said.
“I think it’s really well done, I think it’s great to see it finished.”
We in the media were given a brief taste of what it will be like for the athletes.
One night was enough for this journalist, but Denny said he and his teammates couldn’t wait to move in.
“It’ll be good to just get into that environment and be with everyone that is chasing the same goal and just enjoy the time that we have, because it’s a massive, massive event for our lives,” he said.
The village will start welcoming athletes in a week and the Commonwealth Games begin on the April 4.