Comm Games chair admits 'we got that wrong' after many athletes leave 'disappointing' closing ceremony early

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Chair Peter Beattie has taken fierce criticism of last night's Closing Ceremony on the chin, saying "we got that wrong" after many said they were disappointed to see very little of the athletes themselves at the event while enduring numerous long speeches.

Broadcasters from Australia's Channel 7 were outspoken about the event, which featured numerous musical performances from the likes of Guy Sebastian, Dami Inn, The Veronicas, Amy Shark and Yothu Yindi - and even a cameo from Usain Bolt.

Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas of Channel 7 - the right's holder - apologised to fans, saying it was not their fault that athletes didn't feature in the coverage - it was just that there were none to feature.

"They made the decision not to have the athletes enter the stadium, they made the decision not to show the flag bearers and I'm furious," Griggs said.

Bolt made an energetic appearance during the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in the Gold Coast. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

"They're actually wrecking a tradition which is so important and a part of Commonwealth Games - you want to see the athletes come in you want to see them jumping in front of a camera, you want to see them celebrating eleven days of great sport.

"We missed out on all of that, and I'll tell you ... there's no athletes in here and I've never seen a stadium so empty half way through a ceremony."

Zempilas agreed, saying "Unfortunately tonight, the hosts, the organising committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn't get it right".

"It was a mistake not to include the athletes coming out into the stadium ... so we were not able to bring you any pictures because we did not have any pictures available to us ... it's a disappointing conclusion.

The 21-year-old weightlifter won the David Dixon Award for his sportsmanship during the Games. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

"You're disappointed, we're disappointed ... we've never seen a stadium as empty as this so soon after the conclusion of the Closing Ceremony.

"To be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony.

"And the speeches - look, we understand the dignitaries need to get their messages out there ... but they were way too long tonight, way too long and, dare I say it, a little self-indulgent".

The pair went on to say the disappointment shouldn't overshadow what has been an exceptional performance at the Games by Australia.

Mr Beattie has this morning responded to criticism, acknowledging it and saying he was only aiming to keep the athletes comfortable.

"We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony ... however, having them come in to the stadium in the pre-show meant the TV audience were not able to see the athletes enter the stadium, alongside flag bearers - we got that wrong," he tweeted.

"This decision to bring the athletes into the stadium before the broadcast was operationally driven given there were restrictions on being able to keep the athletes waiting in comfort ... we were driven by the welfare of athletes.

"The speeches were too many and too long ... I was part of that and I acknowledge it ... again, we got that wrong ... I should not have spoken."

Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones told that she was disappointed that athletes were not at the forefront of the ceremony, saying "we expected the athletes would be the focus as is the tradition at closing ceremonies".

"I share the feeling of Australia," Ms Jones said.

"It should have been a celebration of the athletes."


US Lottery jackpot balloons to whopping NZ$996 million

The fourth-largest lottery prize in US history will be on the line as numbers are drawn for the Mega Millions game's $US654 million (NZ$996 million) jackpot.

The grand prize for tomorrow's (NZT) draw has grown so enormous because no one has won the jackpot since July 24.

Although the jackpot is massive, the odds of matching all six numbers and becoming instantly wealthy are remarkably small at one in 302.5 million.

The estimated $US654 million jackpot refers to the annuity option, paid out over 29 years. The cash option, which is favoured by nearly all winners, is $372 million (NZ$566).

Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mega Millions lottery tickets
Mega Millions lottery tickets Source: Associated Press


Duke and Duchess of Sussex 'couldn't think of better place' than Australia to announce baby news

Britain's Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, mentioned his impending fatherhood for the first time today, at a reception at Admiralty House, the Australian Governor-General's official residence.

The news of the pregnancy was announced after Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan arrived in Sydney on Monday.

Thousands of people turned out in the city to see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex today. Source: 1 NEWS

"Thank you for the incredibly warm welcome and the chance to meet so many Aussies from all walks of life," the Duke of Sussex said.

"And we also genuinely couldn’t think of a better place to announce the upcoming baby – be it boy or a girl, so thank you very, very much."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were welcomed to Sydney's Admiralty House for the first official engagement of their Australian tour. Source: Associated Press

The couple are on 16-day visit to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

News that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first baby came on October 15. Source: Associated Press


Stephen Hawking, in message from beyond the grave, warns science, education are under threat around the world

Stephen Hawking spoke from beyond the grave to warn the world that science and education are under threat around the world.

The words of the scientist, who died in March at 76, were broadcast at a London launch event for his final book "Brief Answers To The Big Questions."

Hawking warned that education and science are "in danger now more than ever before." He cited the election of US President Donald Trump and Britain's 2016 vote to leave the European Union as part of "a global revolt against experts and that includes scientists."

Acknowledging that science had yet to overcome major challenges for the world - including climate change, overpopulation, species extinction, deforestation and the degradation of the oceans - the physicist still urged young people "to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."

"Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist," he said. "It matters that you don't give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future."

Hawking lived for more than five decades with motor neuron disease that left him paralysed, communicating through a voice-generating computer. In June, his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey, between the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.

Hawking's daughter Lucy, who attended the book launch, said hearing her father's unmistakable voice had been "very emotional."

"I turned away, because I had tears forming in my eyes," she said. "I feel sometimes like he's still here because we talk about him and we hear his voice and we see images of him, and then we have the reminder that he's left us."

1 NEWS’ Joy Reid spoke with Professor Hawking’s daughter about her father’s final message. Source: 1 NEWS

Donald Trump suggests 'rogue killers' murdered Saudi journalist

President Donald Trump suggested today that "rogue killers" could be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an explanation offering US ally Saudi Arabia a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm. 

The Saudis continued to deny they killed the writer, but there were indications the story could soon change.

While Mr Trump commented at the White House, Turkish crime scene investigators finally entered the Saudi consulate to comb the building where Mr Khashoggi was last seen alive two weeks ago.

Mr Trump spoke after a personal 20-minute phone call with Saudi King Salman and as the president dispatched his secretary of state to Riyadh for a face-to-face discussion with the king. Late in the day, there were published reports that the Saudis were preparing to concede that Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi contributor to The Washington Post, had been killed in an interrogation gone wrong.

"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it," Mr  Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to survey hurricane damage in Florida and Georgia. Mr Trump said he didn't "want to get into (Salman's) mind," but he added, "it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. I mean, who knows? We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial."

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and in particular Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman. Turkish officials have said he was killed and dismembered.

In a sign of new cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that could shed light on the disappearance, Turkish investigators wearing coveralls and gloves entered the consulate on Monday local time. It remained unclear what evidence they might be able to uncover. Earlier in the day, a cleaning crew with mops, trash bags and what appeared to be bottles of bleach walked in past waiting journalists.

Trump administration officials told The Associated Press that intelligence collected by the US is inconclusive as to what actually happened to Mr Khashoggi. With such a lack of clarity, the administration has not ruled out any possible scenario. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hurriedly sent to Riyadh, expected to get more clarity during talks with Saudi leaders tomorrow. The White House expects credible answers quickly after Mr Pompeo wraps up his trip with a stop in Ankara for meetings with senior Turkish officials.

The State Department has urged a thorough investigation into Mr Khashoggi's disappearance and called on Saudi Arabia to be transparent about the results - advice broadly tracking messages from allies in Europe. Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement over the weekend expressing "grave concern" and calling for a credible investigation to ensure those responsible for the disappearance "are held to account."

Mr Trump quoted the King today as saying that neither he nor his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, had any information about what had happened to Mr Khashoggi.

The prince, ambitious, aggressive and just 33 in a kingdom long ruled by aging monarchs, has considerable weight in Saudi government actions. He and Mr Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, have forged close ties.

Just last week, Mr Trump vowed to uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi and promised "severe punishment" for those responsible. But he has said repeatedly that he does not want to halt a proposed $US110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia - as some in Congress have said he should - because it would harm the US economically.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to retaliate economically for any US punitive action. That would be an unprecedented breach in a decades-old, deep economic and security relationship that is key to Washington's policies in the Middle East. A Saudi-owned satellite channel later suggested the world's largest oil exporter could wield that production as a weapon against America.

President Donald Trump stops to talk to members of the media outside the White House in Washington. Source: Associated Press