Gold Coast Commonwealth Games chief Peter Beattie admits organizers botched Sunday’s closing ceremony, accepting criticism that long-winded speeches had fans rushing for the exits while athletes were largely excluded from the broadcast.
Organizing committee chairman Beattie apologized on Monday in the face of a barrage of criticism, saying “we got it wrong.” Closing ceremonies of Olympic and Commonwealth Games are usually much more relaxed than formal openings, focusing on the athletes and celebrating their achievements.
But the organizers’ decision to have athletes enter the Carrara Stadium before the ceremony began meant television viewers saw little of the people the closing was meant to celebrate.
In a series of Twitter posts Monday, Beattie said the ceremony had not worked out as organizers planned.
“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony,” he said.
“However, 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.
“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong.” In a later television interview, Beattie said “did we stuff it up? Yes. Should (athletes) have been a part of the actual ceremony that was broadcast? Of course. We got it wrong. I can’t be more honest about it than that.
“I am not interested in blaming anyone else. We stuffed it up and I apologize to the viewers and the athletes.” Australians took to social media in large numbers to criticize the ceremony.
In an unusual move, the television rights-holders Channel Seven joined in the criticism, saying the ceremony “had not lived up to expectations.” Hosts Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas told viewers the absence of athletes from Channel Seven’s coverage was beyond its control.
“People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flagbearer, Kurt Fearnley, or other flagbearers,” Griggs said. “We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made a decision not to have athletes enter the stadium.
“They made the decision not to show the flagbearers. I’m furious.”