Following the fallout from Sunday evening’s disappointing Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony, Chairman Peter Beattie has apologised for his role in how the events unfolded.
Taking to Twitter on Monday morning, the former Premier of Queensland took responsibility for the Closing Ceremony and particularly the decision not to air footage of the athletes entering the stadium.
“Closing Ceremony; we wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony,” he said. “However, having them come in to 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 said that the choice was made with the interests of the athletes in mind.
“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,” he noted. “The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong.”
He also appeared on Monday morning’s episode of Sunrise where he discussed how they “stuffed up” the Closing Ceremony.
“One of the problems is when you’ve got thousands of athletes, where do you put them?” he said. “They’ve competed, they’re exhausted, the last thing they want is standing in a field for an hour, waiting to get in to a Closing Ceremony.”
He said again that a mistake was made and that the athletes came in as part of the pre-show entertainment. Host David Koch wasn’t buying the excuse and noted that athletes have been part of every other Closing Ceremony at the Commonwealth Games. Koch said the athletes “are the star of the show”.
Beattie said they “got it wrong” and that athletes should have been part of the ceremony.
“We can’t be any more honest about it than that,” he added. He also said he wasn’t interested in blaming anyone else for the mistake.
During last night’s broadcast, commentators Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas vented their frustration at the two-and-a-half hour ceremony. Given the backlash it was causing online, the pair didn’t have much choice.
While the Closing Ceremony and the Games were broadcast on Channel Seven, Griggs said that it wasn’t the network’s decision not to air athletes entering the village. Many believed that the station chose to air cooking show My Kitchen Rules, but Griggs noted this wasn’t the case.
“People are thinking that Channel Seven 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.”
A former swimmer for Australia, Griggs said she wasn’t happy about the decision. “You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of camera,” Griggs continued. “You want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport. We missed out on all of that. There’s no athletes in here. I’ve never seen the stadium so empty halfway through a ceremony.”