Griggs hits back at claims Channel Seven knew plan to snub athletes
Channel Seven host Johanna Griggs has hit back at claims the network was aware athletes would be largely left out of the broadcast of the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony before it was aired.
The former athlete took aim at ABC journalist Tracey Holmes, refuting claims in an article by her that suggested Channel Seven was aware of the plan to snub athletes, despite the network claiming it was shocked by the decision.
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.
It also reported that it was standard practice for a minute-by-minute rundown to be made available to those who will be covering the ceremonies.
While Griggs admitted she had been briefed before the closing ceremony she said at no point in the guide did it mention that "there wouldn't be one single shot" of the athletes.
"We assumed like every other Closing Ceremony ever shown, that the host's vision would feature athletes non-stop celebrating, letting their hair down... like we all expect at a closing ceremony," she wrote in a statement shared on Twitter.
"If we'd left that briefing room with any other indication given to us that no athletes would feature, then of course we would have made other arrangements to capture those moments. But instead we thought we were going to broadcast an innovative and exciting show."
Firstly, thank u to everyone for your overwhelming support around this issue. I’m still sad that a wonderful Commonwealth Games has been tarnished with such a sad ending. But when someone has a crack at your integrity, u have to respond. I hope this answers some of your questions pic.twitter.com/BHY1mTvsSO— Johanna Griggs (@JohGriggs7) April 16, 2018
In an earlier tweet, Griggs accused Holmes of "having a very old axe to grind" with Channel Seven.
Homles worked as a sports presenter for Channel Seven from 1998 to 2000.
Her contract was terminated in mid-2000 amid controversy surrounding her relationship with ABC journalist Stan Grant.
Griggs said she stood by her earlier statement that Channel Seven could show only the vision supplied to the network on the night.
"As rights holders, we were only allowed one camera in the stadium, a news camera, on the condition we wouldn't show the vision for 24 hours," Griggs said. "We made the decision to show it anyway at the back of the ceremony when we realised what a farce the closing ceremony was turning out to be."
Griggs also claimed an ABC representative was at the briefing before the ceremony, but said the employee was not Holmes.
On Monday morning, a contrite Games chairman Peter Beattie apologised for the closing ceremony after athletes were left out of the broadcast, earning a scathing on-air broadside from the Channel Seven hosts.
Mr Beattie admitted the speeches were “too many and too long” in the ceremony on Sunday night and said that he should not have talked at all during the event.
"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," Mr Beattie said on Sunrise.
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 you’re doing it as a sign of kindness and respect for myself and the athletes, but I will blow up when it’s 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 didn’t 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.
“It’s a little bit heartbreaking because that was our only chance at doing that,” she said.
During Seven's coverage, a "furious" 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. I’m furious.”
With Jorge Branco, Robert Moran, Broede Carmody & Amy Mitchell-Whittington