16 Apr 2018

Commonwealth Games closing ceremony slammed on social media

8:45 am on 16 April 2018

Lauded by organisers as "inspirational" and "innovative", the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have come to an end in a heavily-criticised closing ceremony, with Channel Seven's hosts ripping into the event's organisers live on air.

Fireworks complete the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Fireworks complete the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Photosport NZ

As the ceremony wrapped up, Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas were quick to defend Seven's coverage amid criticism they did not show vision of the athletes entering the stadium.

The decision meant television viewers were denied the chance to watch inspirational para-sports veteran Kurt Fearnley carrying the Australian flag into the venue.

Zempilas explained it was the decision of the host broadcaster to have the athletes in the stadium before the ceremony began - a decision Griggs said "wrecked a tradition".

"We understand many people have been disappointed by tonight's closing ceremony and to be perfectly honest Jo, so have we been," Zempilas said.

"It hasn't really lived up to expectations and I've got to say it's about the only thing they got wrong, but they did get it wrong tonight."

But Griggs went even further with her criticism.

"I'm sorry you're being way too polite," she told Zempilas.

"People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag-bearer, Kurt Fearnley or other flag-bearers. We can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters.

"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.

"They're actually wrecking a tradition that is so important and part of the Commonwealth Games.

"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."

'So disappointing'

Griggs said she had never seen a stadium so empty halfway through a ceremony, while Zempilas noted that most of the athletes left during the ceremony.

"Unfortunately tonight, the hosts - the organising committee - together with the host broadcasters, just didn't get it right," Griggs said.

"It was a mistake not to include the athletes coming out into the stadium.

"So Kurt actually did have his moment with his teammates which was important. But I just wish we could have had that moment. I wish we could have actually seen him as part of the program.

"Not have him be there for five seconds, take the flag away and proceed to go to a show that doesn't show any athletes until the last five minutes when they realise social media was lighting up."

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games organising committee chairman Peter Beattie earlier stopped short of declaring the Games the best ever, but said they were "innovative" and "inspirational".

Seven's criticism was echoed on social media, with users airing their disappointment on missing out on seeing the athletes march in.

Instead, Seven shared footage shot earlier on Sunday night of the athletes in the stadium, including Fearnley.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs