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Games closing ceremony was flawed, organisers admit

Sport

Commonwealth Games boss Peter Beattie will apologise to Australian flagbearer Kurt Fearnley after the Gold Coast games ended without the athletes at the forefront.

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The closing ceremony has been criticised as underwhelming, with presenters from broadcast rights holders the Seven Network slamming organisers for not providing vision of athletes entering Carrara Stadium.

The decision denied television viewers the chance to watch inspirational para-sports veteran Fearnley carry the flag into the venue.

Fearnley, who won gold in the men’s wheelchair marathon, received a rousing ovation as he led the Australian team into the stadium on Sunday.

Organising committee chairman Beattie said the decision was made to limit the time athletes, many of whom were fatigued from competition, had to wait outside the stadium.

“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,” he tweeted today.

“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.”

Beattie also conceded speeches went for too long.

“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he said.

“It is very simple. I should not have spoken.”

The former Queensland premier did the rounds on breakfast television taking responsibility, saying he will contact Fearnley to apologise.

He was hopeful the finale did not detract from organisers’ efforts to put on a successful Games.

Seven presenter Johanna Griggs, a 1990 Commonwealth Games swimming bronze medallist, teed off at organisers after viewers initially expressed frustration with the broadcaster when athletes were left out.

“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,” Griggs said on Seven on Sunday.

“They made the decision not to show the flagbearers.

“I’m furious. Actually wrecking a tradition that is so important.

“You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of camera. You want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport.

“We missed out on all of that.”

The ceremony has been described as lacking star power even with sprinting legend Usain Bolt hitting the DJ decks and dancing with mascot Borobi during the spectacle.

Large sections of seating were empty while a number of athletes slipped away to the bar before the ceremony had reached its halfway point.

Australia blitzed the medal tally with 80 gold, matching its haul in 1998 to make it the country’s fourth most successful Commonwealth Games behind Victoria, Canada (87 gold, 1994), Melbourne (84, 2006) and Manchester (82, 2002).

– AAP

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