Tuesday 5 December 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 5/12/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Event horizon: the unveiling of the Olympic rings on the Trocadéro esplanade in Paris

Image: Getty Images

Sport / Andrew Mueller

Game over?

It increasingly seems as though the 2022 Commonwealth Games might have been the last. This past weekend, Australia’s Gold Coast region withdrew its bid to stage the 2026 Commonwealth Games – a bid only hastily assembled after the original host, the Australian state of Victoria, decided that the event had become too expensive and ditched it. As of this writing, nowhere else has volunteered.

In Paris, meanwhile, there is increasing grumbling regarding the city’s preparedness for next summer’s Olympics. One would naturally prefer to believe that this anguish is accompanied by theatrical shrugs balanced by a Gauloise in one hand and an espresso in the other, soundtracked by mournful accordions. Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has sighed that public transport will not be ready, while polls have found that nearly half of Parisians plan to flee the city for the duration and that roughly the same proportion of residents believe that the Games will be, on balance, a bad thing.

Londoners might recall similar portents of doom heralding the 2012 Games: nothing would work, the event would bring the city to a standstill, the security arrangements would be a vexatious shambles, it would all cost a fortune. But by year’s end, polls found that nearly 80 per cent of people agreed that the Games had been abundantly worth it. To this day, especially among hard-core mourners of Brexit, the 2012 Games and Danny Boyle’s splendidly eccentric opening ceremony endure in many imaginations as visions of a lost Eden.

Yes, hosting international sporting tournaments is difficult and expensive but countries such as Australia and cities such as Paris should still welcome them. It’s not just that the events are almost always beneficial, if not necessarily in a manner that balances spreadsheets. It’s that if such places don’t host them, then places like China and Doha will.

Andrew Mueller is a contributing editor at Monocle and presenter of ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Affairs / Venezuela & Guyana

What comes with the territory

Voters in Venezuela have overwhelmingly endorsed a national referendum to claim sovereignty over an oil-rich region called Essequibo, which has been controlled by neighbouring Guyana since 1899. According to the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, 95 per cent of voters backed plans to establish a new state in the Essequibo territory. The move comes after the International Court of Justice urged Venezuela to refrain from breaking the status quo in the region. “For a long time this has been a sore spot for Venezuelans who have grown up with the notion that the Essequibo territory is part of their country,” Christopher Sabatini, senior research fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, tells The Monocle Minute. “Nicolás Maduro has a tough year ahead, with presidential elections scheduled in 2024. With approval ratings at less than 30 per cent, he is looking at ways of stoking nationalist fervour in his favour.”

For more on Venezuela’s referendum on the Essequibo territory, tune in to Monday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.

On the road: Yamaha’s nifty XSR125

Image: Yamaha

Mobility / Japan

Back to the future

Motorcycle enthusiasts are gearing up for the release of Yamaha’s retro XSR125 on Friday. Sales of mopeds and light motorcycles in the 50-125cc categories boomed in Japan at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, as people sought ways to keep moving without having to use public transport. The XSR125, which has a price tag of ¥506,000 (€3,180), is sure to find an audience that is ready and primed.

From LED lighting to an LCD dial, this sporty runaround from Yamaha marries classic looks with hi-tech features and urban manoeuvrability. We’re eyeing up the blue-and-tan model. For the full old-school experience, you might also be tempted by the classic-looking jacket that Kushitani, makers of bike apparel in Hamamatsu since 1947, has made for Yamaha. Sometimes, you really don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Image: Karin Kellner


In the bag

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Then let us inspire you with our Advent gift guide. Every day until Christmas, we’ll be showcasing one item featured in our Alpino newspaper, which will be available in kiosks and from our online shop from Thursday.

Andiamo bag by Bottega Veneta
This bag from Bottega Veneta demonstrates the Italian luxury fashion house’s knack for craft with its use of the brand’s trademark Intrecciato leather weave.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Noma

Q&A / René Redzepi

Eat your words

Celebrated chef René Redzepi, co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, has just published the three-Michelin-star restaurant’s first magazine. Titled Noma in Kyoto, the publication is a love letter to the Japanese city. Redzepi tells Monocle Radio’s The Stack about what inspired the magazine and his new-found love of the editing process.

What is the focus of the new magazine?
After six months of living in Kyoto and operating Noma Kyoto, we decided to make a publication that would focus on everything that made our experience there special. We looked at the things that made a difference to us. We wanted to talk not just about the city but also about deeper cultural aspects, such as the craft of making pottery, and make a guide to restaurants that would not be featured in ordinary guidebooks.

Why did you publish a magazine instead of a book?
I love how you can have so many different opinions, so many different voices, in a magazine. You can go from one story that is raw and almost childish in its approach to something slick and professional by a writer who has been doing this forever, then after that feature a story about a sommelier with a gonzo-style description of drinking wine in Japan.

Are there any plans for more magazines?
I loved doing this one. Perhaps we should make magazines, normal magazines, about the topics that we love, where we can offer something that others can’t find anywhere else. The first thing that I thought of was fermentation: we should have a magazine about it. I also love pastries. It’s a little silly but I love eating sweet things. What if we had a magazine on pastries? Or what about a guide to Copenhagen?

For our full interview with Noma’s René Redzepi, tune in to the latest edition of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Sandkaj Harbour bath, Copenhagen

Carla Hyenne explores some of the Danish capital’s blue spaces to find out just how important they are to residents.


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