The finale of Australian Ninja Warrior on Tuesday evening has left fans confused and angry after footage of a deceased contestant was aired just two weeks after Channel 9 announced they would not show any footage of 28-year-old Johann Ofner following his death.
The stuntman died in January this year after being fatally injured on the set of a Bliss n Eso video clip, just weeks after he had competed in and filmed scenes for Ninja Warrior.
On July 16 - the scheduled run date for Ofner's preliminary episode - a Nine spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald, "Production company Endemol Shine Australia and Channel Nine have decided to feature an on-screen in memoriam dedication to Johann Ofner rather than show his runs in the program."
She continued, "We have been in close contact with his next of kin, who are supportive of this decision. We have the utmost respect for Johann and his involvement in Ninja Warrior, and we want to honour his memory in the most appropriate way."
Instead, the show aired a tribute image of the father-of-one.
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But fast forward to Tuesday's finale and Ofner appeared on-screen not once, but four times, which understandably, left fans incredibly confused.
Viewers first spotted Ofner when his name appeared on the Stage One leaderboard, where he appeared in fifth place. On the Stage Two leaderboard he was in first place, and on the final leaderboard, he sat at fifth place overall.
His final appearance came in the final moments of the show, where he was shown standing amongst fellow competitors and co-host Freddie Flintoff.
Ofner's passing was not mentioned at all throughout the episode, nor was his tribute image re-aired.
Within minutes, fans began tweeting about their sightings, asking if Ofner's appearances had been intentional or down to editing errors.
Sad to see Johann Ofner's name on the leaderboard but not included in the show. #NinjaWarriorAu
— Tee Pee (@tania_price72) July 25, 2017
Strange that #NinjaWarriorAU still had Johann Ofner on the scoreboard & in the wrap up with Freddie but didn't acknowledge him.
— Trace. (@TraceTobes) July 25, 2017
Wow Johann Ofner made it all the way. Top 5 even. Wish they had shown his run throughout the stages. #NinjaWarriorAU
— P R E V (@prevlyon) July 25, 2017
On Wednesday, a Channel 9 spokesperson told Mamamia, “Contrary to reports, Johann Ofner’s inclusion in the leaderboards throughout and the closing moments of Australian Ninja Warrior were intentional and part of our tribute to an incredible athlete.”
Ofner's family has not commented on the finale or the inclusion of their loved one as yet.