Gold Coast apologies for closing ceremony glitches after 'games of firsts'
The organisers of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia have admitted mistakes in the planning of yesterday’s widely-criticised closing ceremony, albeit the 12-day event as a whole has been deemed a success, and “a games of firsts.”
Broadcasters and viewers alike expressed disappointment with Sunday's presentation, which did not include the athletes entering the stadium together with their national flags, while there was an exodus of spectators during speeches many regarded as overlong.
In a statement on Twitter, Peter Beattie, the chairman of Gold Coast 2018, said: “We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the closing ceremony. 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 added: “The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong.”
Johanna Griggs, one of the presenters of the coverage on commercial broadcaster Seven Network, was critical of the closing ceremony during the live broadcast, and has defended the channel’s coverage, claiming it was restricted by the organising committee and host broadcaster NEP.
In a statement, she said: “At no point in the guide [for rights-holding broadcasters] does it mention that there wouldn’t be one single shot shown of athletes watching the performances. We assumed, like every other closing ceremony ever shown, that the host’s vision would feature athletes non-stop, celebrating, letting their hair down… like we all expect at a closing ceremony.”
Griggs added that if Seven had “any indication given to us that no athletes would feature, then of course we would have made other arrangements to capture those moments. But instead we thought we were going to broadcast an innovative and exciting show.”
The presenter continued: “As rights-holders, we were allowed one camera in the stadium, a news camera, on the condition we wouldn’t show the vision for 24 hours. We made the decision to show it anyway at the back of the ceremony when we realised what a farce the closing ceremony was turning out to be.”
The closing ceremony was one sour note of a Commonwealth Games generally considered to have been well-organised and well-received, and which could help pave the way for Southeast Queensland to bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games, most likely centred on Brisbane.
Meanwhile, Perth in Western Australia is considering a bid to stage the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
A record 43 countries featured in the Gold Coast 2018 medal table, which was topped by the host nation, and nine world records and 83 games records were broken.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, CGF president Louise Martin said: “The inspiring and impactful performances of our Commonwealth athletes have delivered on the promise of a historic collection of 'firsts' that were achieved in the run up to Games; whether that be the ground-breaking Reconciliation Action Plan, the equal number of medals for men and women for the first time, or the largest ever fully-integrated para-sport programme seen in Commonwealth and world sport.”
Chief executive David Grevemberg added: "The athletes have helped us write a new chapter in our modern Commonwealth's history. The captivating stories, and unparalleled performances have brought a new meaning to the words 'Commonwealth Athlete'.
“What we have witnessed on the Gold Coast has instilled incredible pride in what it means to be a Commonwealth athlete, both as a high performance competitor on the field of play, and as a champion of causes and passions off it. That is what being an athlete on what has become known as 'Team Commonwealth' is all about."
The next Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham in England in 2022.