Commonwealth Games officials apologise over 'disastrous' closing ceremony

Published: 16 April 2018 Image credit: Reuters/David Gray

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The Commonwealth Games have ended in unspectacular fashion, with viewers and athletes left in disbelief over the disastrous finish to a brilliant event on Sunday night.

Committee Chairman, Peter Beattie, has apologised for what he describes as a “stuff up,” saying the speeches were “too many and too long” and that he should not have spoken at all.

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He also said organisers “got it wrong” after they broke with tradition and arranged for athletes to enter Carrara stadium before the ceremony started. 

"Did we stuff it up? Yes. Should athletes have been a part of the actual ceremony that was broadcast? Of course. We got it wrong. I can't be more honest about it than that," he told Sunrise.

The breaking of tradition meant that athletes were denied the spotlight and left out of the event, as their entry wasn’t broadcast or shared with viewers.

Viewers were also left disappointed, as they missed out seeing wheelchair racing gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley, carrying the Australian flag.

The part of the closing ceremony that organisers decided to broadcast included performances from local musicians including Amy Shark, Guy Sebastian, Yothu Yindi, Kate Cebrano and Dami Im.

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Singer Guy Sebastian performs during the closing ceremony. Image credit: Reuters/David Gray

Channel 7 hosts Jo Griggs and Basil Zempilas couldn't hide their disappointment or anger, as they slammed organisers, and accused them of destroying a beloved tradition.

They expressed their disappointment over the decision to leave the athletes’ entrance out of the broadcast, saying it was not the decision of the network.

"People are thinking that Channel 7 has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag bearer, Kurt Fearnley, or other flag bearers," said Griggs.

However, Mr Beattie told Sunrise that the reason for leaving the athletes out was based on the competitors’ welfare.

He also took to Twitter to explain the decisions of the event organisers.

"This decision to bring the athletes into the stadium before the broadcast was operationally driven given there were restrictions on being able to keep the athletes waiting in comfort. We were driven by the welfare of athletes.

“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony. However, having them come into 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."

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As the event rolled on, 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 of the athletes including Usain Bolt also departed the stadium early before the ceremony ended.

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Former Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt plays the DJ decks during the closing ceremony. Image credit: Reuters/David Gray

Mr Beattie also admitted to media that people were understandably angry over the closing ceremony coverage, and ultimately the buck stopped with him.

"I am not interested in blaming anyone else," he said.

"We stuffed it up and I apologise to the viewers and the athletes."