The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have come to an end with a heavily-criticised closing ceremony.
Channel Seven Hosts Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas were “furious” at the ceremony organisers because the vision they provided last night did not include the athletes entering the stadium.
Viewers also missed out on seeing inspirational para-sports veteran Kurt Fearnley carrying the Australian flag into the arena because My Kitchen Rules was airing.
Zempilas was at first diplomatic, telling viewers: “Look, we understand many people have been disappointed by tonight’s Closing Ceremony. I’ve got to say it’s about the only thing they got wrong. They did get it wrong tonight.”
But Griggs – well loved for her typically positive commentary – told Zempilas he was “being too polite”.
“I’m sorry, you’re being way too polite,” Griggs told him, News Corp reports.
“People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag bearer, Kurt Fearnley … We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made the decision not to have athletes enter the stadium. I’m furious.”
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Now, Seven commentator Mel McLaughlin, says Griggs has “every right to be filthy”.
“You’re not always able to be as honest as you like on TV. But those two were, and rightfully so,” she said.
“It’s what the punters are thinking at home … it’s a huge celebration. The athletes want to relax, they want to party, they want to be on show… Jo was filthy and she had every right to be.
“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.”
On Monday morning, Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie admitted organisers had “stuffed up”.
Closing Ceremony; 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.#gc2018
— Peter Beattie (@SmartState1) April 15, 2018
“The athletes would not have enjoyed last night. I understand that and frankly the buck stops with me on that,” he told ABC.
He explained athletes had been herded into the stadium early to avoid having them being kept “standing around” for a long period time and getting bored.
Griggs said the fact the athletes weren’t filmed entering the stadium was “wrecking tradition”.
The reaction from fans on social media was one of disappointment in Games organisers, and there were many people applauding Griggs and Zempilas for their honesty.
Another shout out to @JohGriggs7 and @BasilZempilas for voicing their disappointment on the closing ceremony. Stoked you two spoke up, it’s rare and often fraught with danger, but dammit, you did the right thing. Bravo.
— Higgo (@Higgo74) April 15, 2018
— Pablo Fiasco (@Ptain) April 15, 2018
The spirit of sport, commraderie and how much the games mean to the stars of the show… the athletes…completely disregarded with a closing ceremony that missed the point! #flabbergasted #EpicFail #NoExcuse #GC2018 https://t.co/nZVzIZWe2r
— Michael O’Dwyer (@modsteroz) April 15, 2018
It is always about the athletes. A closing ceremony is a thank you for their efforts and a celebration of the city and culture that hosted these efforts. I got none of that tonight and couldn’t have summed it up better than Jo. Memorable television.
— Warwick Long (@Warwick_Long) April 15, 2018
Griggs continued that many athletes left half-way through the ceremony, saying she’d “never seen the stadium so empty”.
At which point Zempilas weighed in, conceding many of the speeches were “way too long, dare I say, a little self-indulgent”.
It’s a disappointing end to an otherwise successful games.