The global swine Flu pandemic was officially launched in Sydney today by the World Health Organisation to an estimated global audience of 3 billion. Critics hailed the spectacular as ‘the most impressive pandemic launch yet’, by general consent eclipsing the event at the Bird Flu stadium in Beijing two years ago.
A capacity crowd – keen to ‘work from home’ for a couple of weeks – packed out the new H1N1 Stadium in Sydney to watch the event. A poorly athlete staggered up to the centre of the stadium with the ‘flame of ill-health’, carried from Mexico City, before extinguishing it with an impressive sneeze. Teams of consultants and medics representing every nation trooped out onto the pitch to receive the virus, creating a beautiful sea of grubby off-white for spectators. As Margaret Chan of the WHO mounted the podium to officially declare the start of the 2009 pandemic, a sea of green and yellow fireworks filled the sky above the stadium. Following this, Bjork gave a rousing performance of musical hacks, snuffles and oinks, dressed in a voluminous white handkerchief.
‘This is of huge symbolic importance’ claimed Margaret Chang, defending the building of the multi-billion pound stadium with Burmese child labour ‘nations may be divided by ideology, religion and long-running historical feuds, but I believe we can all unite around the universal creed of the WHO: ‘One World, one people, one nation under the weather.’