Peter Beattie admits they ‘got it wrong’ for the closing ceremony
What should have been a chance to celebrate what has been lauded as a very successful Commonwealth Games has finished as beat up of the closing ceremony, with criticism aimed at the endless speeches, line-up of mainly Australian Idol contenders for entertainment and lack of athletes present.
Former Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas, the hosts of Channel Seven’s Games coverage, took the highly unusual step of criticising the games organisers live on air on Sunday night.
“I’m furious,” Griggs said. “Actually, wrecking a tradition that is so important. You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of camera. 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.”
Zempilas also joined in, drawing attention to the amount of spectators leaving the stadium during the closing ceremony.
“We’ve never seen a stadium as empty as this so soon after the end of a closing ceremony and, to be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony,” he said. “And the speeches … they were way too long tonight. Way too long. And dare I say it a little self-indulgent.”
It didn’t stop there, with Sunrise’s David Koch lambasting Beattie on air this morning.
“It was such a magnificent Games, how can you stuff up the closing ceremony?” Koch said. “Every other closing ceremony the athletes have been involved, they are the star of the show! It seems like it was put together by some arty-farty entertainment director.”
Beattie went into damage control immediately. “We were concerned about athletes’ welfare, one of the problems is when you’ve got thousands of athletes, where do you put them?” he said. “We got that wrong.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.”
Even Barnaby Joyce put the boot in on social media, saying: “Someone has got to answer for that.”
Boston-based event organiser Jack Morton was tasked with both the opening and closing ceremony with a combined budget of $30 million. Australian performers included Anthony Callea, Ricki-Lee Coulter, Guy Sebastian, Archie Roach and Amy Shark, while Yothu Yindi performed Treaty as the finale.