A WAVE of New Year celebrations have already commenced across the world, lighting up the skyline in an extraordinary kaleidoscope of colour.
At a time when the spotlight is shone on impressive proposals of firework displays, Sydney has drawn the world’s attention for perhaps the very wrong reason, where celebrations in the Australian city were mired in controversy.
Due to the ongoing bushfires ravaging parts of the country there were calls to cancel the iconic event in a mark of respect to the thousands of people evacuated from their homes in New South Wales, where firefighters continue to tackle the unprecedented blazes.
Three people have died in the last 24 hours and five are missing, with many at high risk due to being forced to breathe in dangerous concentrations of smoke. Matters have become worse as scores of homes have been destroyed, a countless number of animals have died and buildings on the historic street of Cobargo have been engulfed in flames.
There were doubts as to whether the impressive display to ring in the new year would go ahead because of the devastation, however more than a million people still descended to Sydney Harbour for the world famous event having been granted an exemption from a governmental fireworks ban to prevent further wildfires.
On Tuesday (December 31), Lord Mayor Clover Moore defended going ahead with the event and said climate change was the real issue. She added that money for the event had already been allocated and that the display would generate millions for the New South Wales economy, where the council had already donated $620,000 to bushfire and drought-affected communities and revellers would be encouraged to top up the donations.
Speaking to the press she said:
“The compelling issue here is climate change. People have lost homes, people have died, firefighters have been killed defending communities. As the driest continent on earth we’re at the forefront of accelerating global warming.
“What is happening is a wake up call for our governments to start making effective contributions to reducing global emissions.”
We didn’t make the decision to continue tonight’s #SydNYE lightly, but I’m proud that we’re leveraging the event’s reach – at the Harbour and on the ABC broadcast – to raise funds for the bushfire appeal and the important work of @RedCrossAU. https://t.co/E6lxKZWK72
— Clover Moore (@CloverMoore) December 31, 2019
Close to one billion people worldwide were thought to have watched the Sydney event, which came two hours after an impressive display in Auckland.
Hong Kong opted for a more modest light show which was accompanied by a cinematic soundtrack as the city bid farewell to a year that was faced with mass protests against the government.
The North Korean capital of Pyongyang and Seoul in South Korea followed suit, where in South Korea thousands descended in the cold to watch a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near their City Hall.
Fireworks also drew large crowds in Tokyo, including at the city’s favourite Disneyland theme park, as locals were set for an exciting year which will see them welcome tourists from far and wide for the 2020 Olympics in the summer.