Commonwealth Games organisers in damage control after closing ceremony broadcast outrage

The organisers of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are on a damage control campaign this morning as viewers and commentators expressed their fury at last night’s coverage of the event’s closing ceremony.

Channel Seven’s broadcast team were particularly scathing of the event which saw the ceremony start with the athletes already in the stadium rather the teams entering the stadium during the celebrations.


Seven Network commentators Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempalas at the end of last night’s Commonwealth Games closing ceremony

“We understand many people have been disappointed with tonight’s ceremony,” said Seven commentator Basil Zempalas towards the end of the network’s broadcast. “And, to be honest, so have we. It hasn’t lived up to expectations.”

“You’re being way too polite,” replied fellow commentator and former Commonwealth Games athlete, Johanna Griggs.

“People are thinking Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag bearer, Kurt Fernley or other nation’s flag bearers coming in. We’re the Australian rights holders so we can only provide the pictures provided by the host broadcaster.”

Host broadcaster and operator of the event’s International Broadcast Centre, NEP Group, were quick to deflect criticism from its coverage.

This morning, Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie went to air on Seven’s Sunrise program to issue a mea culpa to both the broadcaster and its viewers, explaining the coverage flaws were due to staging decisions by the Games’ organisers and event organisers, Jack Morton Events.

“We stuffed it up and I apologise to your viewers and the athletes,” said Beattie in his interview with David Koch.”

Koch was particularly scathing about Jack Morton Events as “not even being part of the Commonwealth.”

The events management company is part of the IPG group and leading its organisation of the opening and closing ceremonies was David Zolkwer,  head of Jack Morton Worldwide Public Events.

Zolkwer previously led the event teams for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Mumbrella has contacted Jack Morton Events for comment.

In a statement, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games organising committee acknowledged it had made a mistake and emphasised the good intentions of the event’s creative team.

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) acknowledges the concerns raised around tonight’s broadcast of the GC2018 Closing Ceremony.

We agree that the ceremony should be a celebration of the athletes and a chance for them to celebrate the end of 11 days of tremendous sport.

It was the intention of the Closing Ceremony creative to have the athletes involved from the very start of the show, enabling them all to be part of the celebrations. This resulted in the athletes entering the stadium during the pre-show, rather than during the live broadcast.

GOLDOC appreciates that this decision therefore did not provide the opportunity for the television audiences to share this moment.

With over half the athletes scheduled to depart the Gold Coast tomorrow, it is understandable that large numbers of athletes chose to depart the ceremony early, to prepare for their journey or attend their own team celebrations.

It was the intention of GOLDOC to celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes and provide them with a great experience. We are naturally disappointed that the good intentions of the creative did not necessarily work for some of the athletes involved and the broadcast audience.

UPDATE 1:30pm: Jack Morton’s managing director Helen Graney has issued the following statement to Mumbrella following the backlash:

“Over the past three years, Jack Morton Worldwide, Australia has had the privilege of working side-by-side with GOLDOC in the development of the creative elements of the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games.

“Having received such a positive response to the Opening Ceremony on the Gold Coast earlier this month, we share GOLDOC’S disappointment at the level of criticism targeted at specific aspects of last night’s ceremony.”


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