'We got it wrong': Beattie apologises after closing ceremony panned
After a closing ceremony that barely focused on athletes and featured long, rambling speeches, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games chairman Peter Beattie has admitted organisers got it wrong.
The athletes entered Carrara Stadium before the television broadcast and were barely shown to TV audiences as they stood in darkness on the fringe of the stage.
There were reports many began leaving the venue less than an hour into the event.
The ceremony also featured at least seven speeches by dignitaries, including Mr Beattie, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham — the 2022 Commonwealth Games host city.
Channel Seven’s own commentators, Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas, launched into an extraordinary attack on the ceremony immediately after it finished, saying they were “furious”.
Mr Beattie tweeted an apology on Monday morning.
“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he wrote.
“It is very simple. I should not have spoken.
“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.”
Mr Beattie later told the ABC the athletes were brought into the stadium early to avoid a scenario where they would have been kept “standing around”.
“At previous ceremonies athletes were herded around, they stand around, they hate it, they get bored, often they don’t go,” he said.
“Our decision to bring them in early was right, but what we should have done though is have them parade as well.
“The athletes would not have enjoyed last night. I understand that and frankly the buck stops with me on that.”
Mr Beattie said he wanted to personally apologise to Australian flagbearer Kurt Fearnley.
‘I’m furious’ athletes weren’t shown, TV host says
Channel Seven’s commentators said athletes were denied the spotlight.
Griggs said her network was not at fault, saying they could only use the pictures provided by the Commonwealth Games host broadcasters.
She was particularly critical of the decision not to show para-sports veteran Kurt Fearnley carrying the Australian flag into Carrara Stadium, surrounded by his teammates.
“They made the decision not to have the actual athletes enter the stadium, they made the decision not to show the flag-bearers and I’m furious,” Griggs said.
“You want to see the athletes come and you want to see them jumping in front of a camera, you want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport. We missed out on all of that.”
The ceremony was largely panned on social media, with critics upset about the lack of focus on athletes, quality of the musical performances, speeches and the length of the event.
Spectators leave ceremony early
Spectators began streaming out of the Carrara Stadium before the ceremony finished, leaving the venue seemingly half-empty when the lights were turned back on.
Many told the ABC outside the stadium that there had been too many empty seats during the ceremony.
Amber Pitty said ticket prices may have been to blame.
“I would have liked to see more of the athletes but other than that, I think they did a really great job,” she said.
Toby Findlay said watching Indigenous band Yothu Yindi was “fantastic”, but he left early because “the last bit wasn’t great”.
George Wilson provided a less than ringing endorsement for the ceremony, calling it “not bad”.
“I was forced to come. I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t have to,” he said.
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