Claims Channel Seven was briefed on closing ceremony schedule


It is understood this practice was followed by Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) before the closing ceremony.

The ABC reported that before the ceremony all rights holders, including Channel Seven, were given a minute-by-minute briefing on Saturday morning detailing how the closing ceremony would unfold — complete with a 34-page media guide.

The decision by organisers to leave the athletes' entry to Carrara Stadium out of the broadcast meant viewers missed seeing wheelchair racing gold medallist Kurt Fearnley carrying the Australian flag.

Fearnley told SEN 116 Radio on Monday afternoon that the ceremony omission had been disappointing.

"I am sure there are plenty of athletes and parents of athletes from all around the Commonwealth who would have loved to see their guys coming into the stadium and Peter Beattie saying they did get it wrong and, yeah, they did mate," Fearnley said.

But Fearnley also emphasised the success of the Games, which he said had been "the best and most inclusive Games".

"For all the people blowing up, I know youre doing it as a sign of kindness and respect for myself and the athletes, but I will blow up when its needed," he said.

Backstroke gold medallist Emily Seebohm said the ceremony ranked as the worst of her three Commonwealth Games and three Olympic campaigns.

“The athletes didnt really know what was happening. No one really communicated anything,” she said.

She noted the closing night was particularly important for swimmers because heavy first-week programs meant they usually skipped the opening ceremony.

“Its a little bit heartbreaking because that was our only chance at doing that,” she said.

During Seven's coverage, a "furious" Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas told viewers the network did not control the broadcast and that it had been arranged that athletes would be in place before the screening began.

"People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flagbearer, Kurt Fearnley, or other flagbearers," Griggs said.

"We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made a decision not to have athletes enter the stadium. They made the decision not to show the flagbearers. Im furious.”

Channel Seven has been contacted for comment.

With Jorge Branco, Robert Moran, Broede Carmody & Amy Mitchell-Whittington

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Melissa Cunningham

Melissa Cunningham reports breaking news for The Age.

Rachel Clun

Rachel Clun is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a reporter with the Brisbane Times and Domain.

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