By Paul Gray
World Youth Day organisers have detailed progress on the construction of facilities at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, ahead of the arrival of an expected half-million visitors for the vigil and Mass with Pope Benedict on July 19 and 20.
Central to the updated information released by the WYC organizing office this week was the state of the toilets.
No fewer than 1300 of a planned 4000 toilets have already been built, said the WYD Director of Event Planning and Operations Ian Steigrad.
“The materials used – including the toilets themselves – will be re-used after World Youth Day,” Mr Steigrad said.
“They’re being built in blocks of 16 in the positions they’ll occupy during the events.”
Mr Steigrad said all construction work at Randwick, one of Australia’s most famous race courses, is being carried out in accordance with the Church’s agreement with the racing industry to keep off the tracks until mid-June.
Accordingly, all current work is being carried out off the main tracks. The work will step up in pace when organisers have exclusive access to the course, five weeks before the arrival of the Pope.
The revelations follow a news report in one daily newspaper attacking the planning of World Youth Day as a “shambles.”
In an article long on rumblings but short on explosive fact, reporter Alan Gold of The Australian said the huge number of people expected at World Youth Day could pose perils to public health.
Unnamed experts, he said, could not conceive how such a huge infrastructure involving such a multitude of people could be put together in a safe working condition in a few weeks.
And “with just weeks to go, there is no sign of a toilet city,” he wrote.
Mr Gold’s concerns may have been soothed this week with TV news footage broadcast around Australia of the hundreds of toilets already erected at Randwick.
World Youth Day chief operating officer Danny Casey said organisers are delighted with the building progress.