‘We got that wrong’ Comm Games boss admits as closing ceremony is heavily criticised

Commonwealth Games organising committee chairman Peter Beattie admitted “we got that wrong” as the closing ceremony to the Gold Coast event was widely criticised.

Beattie said he would apologise to Australian flagbearer Kurt Fearnley after the traditional event was staged without the athletes at the forefront.

The closing ceremony has been labelled “underwhelming”, with presenters from broadcast rights holders the Seven Network slamming organisers for not providing vision of athletes entering Carrara Stadium.

Australian media were disappointed their athletes didn't get better coverage at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

DITA ALANGKARA/AP

Australian media were disappointed their athletes didn’t get better coverage at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

Beattie said the decision was made to limit the time athletes, many of whom were fatigued from competition, had to wait outside the stadium.

“Having them come into 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 on Monday.

Queensland's Courier-Mail reported that athletes left the ceremony early to hit the bar.

MICHAEL DODGE/GETTY IMAGES

Queensland’s Courier-Mail reported that athletes left the ceremony early to hit the bar.

“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.”

Beattie also conceded speeches went for too long.

Aussie para athlete Kurt Fearnley was rarely shown on the coverage as he led his team into the ceremony.

BRADLEY KANARIS/GETTY IMAGES

Aussie para athlete Kurt Fearnley was rarely shown on the coverage as he led his team into the ceremony.

“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he said.

“It is very simple. I should not have spoken.”

The former Queensland premier did the rounds on Australian breakfast television taking responsibility and saying he would contact Fearnley, who won the wheelchair marathon, to apologise.

He was hopeful the finale did not detract from organisers’ efforts to put on a successful Games.

The ceremony has been described as lacking star power even with sprinting legend Usain Bolt hitting the DJ decks and dancing with mascot Borobi during the spectacle.

Large sections of seating were empty while a number of athletes slipped away to the bar before the ceremony had reached its halfway point.

Channel Seven hosts Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas did not hold back in their condemnation of the decision, expressing their disappointment that the athletes’ entry to the stadium was not part of the show, as has been traditional at such events.

Griggs offered viewers an on-air apology for what they were seeing.

“People are thinking that Channel 7 has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag-bearer Kurt Fearnley or other flag-bearers,” Griggs said.

“We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made decisions not to have athletes enter the stadium.

“They made the decision not to show the flag-bearers.”

Griggs said she was “furious” about the decision which “wrecked a tradition that is so important”.

“You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of camera,” she added.

“The organising committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right. It was a mistake … [and] they’ve been repaid, there are no athletes in here and I’ve never seen the stadium so empty.”

Queensland’s Courier-Mail newspaper described the closing ceremony as “a disastrous finish to a brilliant event”.

“This was a show that swung from pain to pleasure,” wrote Mike Colman. “The pain being that the telecast did not bring us pictures of the athletes.

“Not that too many paying public showed up to watch after the criticism levelled at the opening event. Luckily they were able to fill the empty seats with around 3000 athletes who happened to be wandering around town looking for a restaurant open after 8pm.”

Added another reporter from the Courier-Mail: “After a sellout opening ceremony, thousands of empty seats were a disappointing sight at last night’s closing ceremony … Volunteers were even on standby to help fill empty seats at Carrara Stadium and Aussie athletes left the ceremony early and hit the bar.”

The Courier-Mail quoted Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones as saying: “We expected the athletes would be the focus, as is the tradition at closing ceremonies.”

– Stuff with AAP

 – Stuff

Source: Nelson Mail News (16th April 2018)

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