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Commonwealth Games organisers have apologised after stinging criticism on social media of Sunday night’s closing ceremony.
Television viewers were unable to see the athletes entering the Gold Coast stadium with each nation’s flag bearer, leading Channel Seven’s own commentators to express their dismay.
The chairman of the organising committee, the former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, admitted: “We got that wrong.”
Beattie also apologised on Monday for the length of the speeches, which had athletes and spectators heading for the exits long before the ceremony officially wound up.
The ceremony was widely derided on social media and the Australian rights holder Channel Seven joined in the criticism, saying it had no control over the decision not to show the athletes because they had already entered the stadium when the ceremony began.
The Channel Seven hosts Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas took the unusual step during Sunday night’s broadcast of criticising both the games organisers and the host broadcasters on-air, saying the poorly designed ceremony had emptied out the stadium.
Griggs, a former Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, said she was “furious” at the decision not to show images of the Australian team and flag bearer Kurt Fearnley, saying not doing so was “wrecking a tradition that is so important as part of Commonwealth Games”.
“People thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes and not to show the flag bearer, Kurt Fearnley, and other flag bearers of nations coming in: we’re the Australian rights holder so we can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters,” she said. “They made the decision not to have the athletes enter the stadium.”
Zempilas said the ceremony had been a disappointing end to the games.
“We’ve never seen a stadium as empty as this so soon after the end of a closing ceremony and, to be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony,” he said. “And the speeches … they were way too long tonight. Way too long. And dare I say it a little self-indulgent.”
Footage from both inside and outside Carrara Stadium showed spectators leaving in the middle of the ceremony.
Even Barnaby Joyce joined the criticism on social media, saying: “Someone has got to answer for that.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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