World reacts to bitter debate

THE New South Wales state government’s decision to allow an ad promoting The Everest horse race onto the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House has been noticed far beyond our shores.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, CNN, and Time have all reported on the stoush that has divided Sydney.

The New York Times reported on the “divisive” decision by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to overrule Opera House chief Louise Herron, allowing the advertising to run.

The paper followed up its initial report a day later zeroing in on the demonstrators who converged on the iconic World Heritage-listed building to protest the decision as the ads lit up.

CNN also reported on Tuesday night’s demonstration in Sydney, explaining to its readers why many Aussies considered the use of an Australian cultural icon to promote a race “sacrilegious” against PM Scott Morrison’s pro-view that the famous building is the “biggest billboard Sydney has.”

When the sails were lit up on Tuesday night with Racing NSW projections, CNN reported, “there were boos” and cries of “shame”.

The BBC explained all sides of the controversy, while also pointing out that the Opera House sails are used every year to promote cultural events such as Vivid Sydney.

Time and the Washington Post also reported on the demonstrations and why, according to quoted protesters, “Sydney is not Las Vegas.”

Since last Friday, more than 250,000 people signed an online petition calling for Herron’s decision to be upheld. Anti-gambling advocates say the controversy is evidence of the political sway of the horse racing industry.

Racing NSW, the race organiser, had planned to project the draw live on to the Opera House. But they opted to conduct the draw hours earlier in case the protest disrupted the Opera House promotion.

The Everest has a staggering $13 million up for grabs, and is billed as the world’s richest turf race.

The Sydney Opera House, of course, was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and opened in 1973.

The United Nations declared the expressionist building a “masterpiece of 20th Century architecture” and conferred World Heritage status in 2007.

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