Seven hosts turn feral on self-indulgent Closing Ceremony

Updated: Joh Griggs & Basil Zempilas read the mood and let rip Live on air. And they were right.

Seven commentators Johanna Griggs and Basil Zempilas last night slammed Commonwealth Games organisers for a woeful Closing Ceremony.

The event included an extended concert, arena dancing, speeches and the handover to 2022 host city Birmingham. But it broke with tradition by not welcoming the athletes onto the ground.

Social media went into meltdown over the snub, and in an unprecedented move the Seven hosts slammed their own event Live on air.

“We understand many people have been disappointed by tonight’s Closing Ceremony. To be perfectly honest Joh, so have we. It hasn’t really lived up to expectations. I’ve got to say it’s about the only thing they got wrong. They did get it wrong tonight.”

But Griggs did not hold back.

“I’m sorry, you’re being way too polite,” she said. “People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flag bearer Kurt Fearnley and other flag bearers as the nations come in.

“We are the Australian rights holders so we can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. They made the decision not to have the athletes enter the stadium. They made the decision not to show the flag bearers and I’m furious! They are 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. And I tell you there’s no athletes in here. I’ve never seen the stadium so empty halfway through a ceremony.

“It’s been the most wonderful 11 days but unfortunately tonight, the organising committee together with the host broadcasters just didn’t get it right,” Zempilas said.

“It was a mistake not to include the athletes coming out into the stadium. It was their decision to have them in the stadium already before the broadcast began.

“We did not have pictures available to us to bring you. It’s a disappointing conclusion.

They also slammed the lengthy speeches and self-indulgence.

“It’s so wrong, Baz,” said Griggs.

“To be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony,” said Zempilas.

While a network may have expressed concerns with a broadcast in the days following a major event, to do so whilst still on air is probably unprecedented. But Griggs and Zempilas had correctly read the mood on social media, and last night were widely praised for being so outspoken.

Mel McLaughlin and Jason Richardson at The Star, who followed the broadcast, acknowledged Griggs & Zempilas saying what everybody was thinking.

“Joh was filthy, she had every right to be,” McLaughlin said.

“It should have been Johnny Farnham singing You’re the Voice and the athletes!”

UPDATE: Statement from NEP Australia:

“We understand that there were some early, incorrect, media reports and social media comments about the role of the host broadcaster – NEP Australia – in the closing ceremonies.  NEP is not involved in the creative elements of the closing ceremony, rather we broadcast them.  GC2018 explains the creation and production of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in detail at: https://www.gc2018.com/article/talent-announced-opening-and-closing-ceremonies

So this pic was obviously taken at the start of the night. Neither Basil or I could have ever imagined how things were all going to unfold by the end of the night. I know we’ll cop plenty of criticism for our comments post ceremony(and some rightly so) – and I hope people understand that we don’t mean to diss the individual artists’ performances at all… but as a former athlete and someone who has experienced a Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony…. I do not understand how you can have a closing ceremony that is not about the athletes. One that doesn’t show them or include them at all. Right after – you have just shown the world how to produce a truly inclusive and groundbreaking games which was the best!! After all, the athletes are the ones who have provided us with all the highlights; the moments that have stopped us in our tracks; that have left us tearing up; yelling out in joy or left us completely in shock. The athletes are what a closing ceremony is all about. It’s to celebrate them. The flag bearer tradition is to acknowledge the most remarkable athlete from the games for each nation – often chosen by their peers. Tonight was meant to be about Kurt Fearnley. And for 70 other nations it was meant to be about their games hero. I’m so upset for the athletes and for Kurt and have apologised to him already that he didn’t get the send off he deserved. Kurt being Kurt.. was gracious and amazing as he is.. every single day. But I do hope someone is smart enough to give him the send off he should have on a national scale. I don’t even know what that looks like.. but if there’s someone who deserves it, it’s him. So thank you to Basil for standing beside me as I unleashed. And to our bosses who were unwavering in their support for us and the stand we took tonight. We know it was unusual, but I knew to be able to sleep when my head hit the pillow I couldn’t not say something. Thanks to everyone who has been supportive, and to those that aren’t… that’s ok too. One of the beautiful things about Australia is that we can all have an opinion. But please, please let the athletes be able to enjoy what they’ve done. Thank u..:)

A post shared by Johanna Griggs (@johgriggs7) on

81 Responses

  1. A disaster. So completely PC with it’s “inclusive” theme. If they wanted to exclude privileged white men they could have done us a favour and included those talking heads.
    Having said that, the Birmingham feature proved we are rank amateurs in the PC stakes compared to the Brits, but what was with the guy sleeping on the girl’s shoulder, then wiping snot on her? Can’t say I’ll be running out to book tickets.

  2. This doesn’t bode well for our cricket coverage going forward, does it?!?
    NEP are a facilities provider and have delivered production services to a host of big sports events (incl the last 4 Comm Games, Cricket, NRL etc). They provide services of tech crew and equip and delivery of pictures and sounds. It is the Host Broadcaster, in this case Channel 7, and the Games Organisers who jointly determine the creative for the ceremony so that it appeals to those in the stands and those viewing around the world. Channel 7 cannot distance themselves from this – they have a seat at the table and know the rundown before going to air. They contribute heavily on the creative. As they do for all of their broadcasts across the Comm Games. The Sports Dept at 7 need to stand up and take some responsibility. Enough of the finger pointing at a company paid to provide tech services. That is a low act on…

    1. Completely incorrect. Seven has absolutely no say on the creative, or the production. They can only screen the feed provided to them by the host broadcasters NEP. Wish people would stop blaming Seven, as it has been made abundantly clear they were not at fault !!

      1. Well said. Some people’s judgment are really blinded by their dislike towards Seven. Peter Beattie has already come out to take full responsibility. He’s not even blaming the NEP.

        1. Or maybe 7 just chose to broadcast MKR rather than the pre-show which included the athlete’s entrance? 7 knew when the athletes arrived because they interviewed them as they disembarked the team bus. Maybe it was about 7’s priorities in relaunching MKR to benefit from the Comm Games halo?? Either way, they would have had visibility over the running order of the ceremony and they make their own broadcasting and scheduling decisions.

          1. Can someone please correct me if I am wrong – the pre-show was never intended to be shown on TV? Someone even commented that the closing didn’t start until 8:30pm? I am more than happy to eat my words if I am wrong. If I am right, would you people please do the same?

  3. Such a pity, when the Games themselves were great, and the athletes (from all countries) performed so well.

    At least this controversy is letting our Netballers and Rugby sevens teams, deal with their disappointment quietly.

  4. When joh and basil came on at the end I thought joh doesn’t look happy. Good on joh for telling it like it is. The games are meant to be about the athletes. We needed to see them.

  5. From that link supplied by NEP “The calibre of the people behind the creation and production of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies is remarkable. I am confident the right people are in place and that they will deliver exceptional shows that will make all Queenslanders and Australians proud,” Mr Beattie said.
    Oh dear. And he’s still on radio and TV apologising.

  6. I definitely get why people were angry about it, but I also understand why they brought the athletes in, so that they could experience it all from inside instead of standing around doing nothing.But some things definitely dragged and as soon as the athletes left the atmosphere and engagement did too and it was all downhill. If the show had been more of a success would people even have minded?

    For me the ending was such a bitter way to end such a great games. Although again I understand and don’t want to take away from their disappointment which is valid, to see the people who have been promoting the games for the past 11 days be so negative about it really soured everything for me. This is the thing that is trending today when it should be our success in the medal tally and the inclusiveness of the games.

    And part of me sees this as Channel 7 saving face. They knew that everyone…

  7. I’d already turned it off & gone to bed so missed the comments last night. But they played it again today on Sunrise. I wasn’t even aware outside people were in control. Is that the case with Olympics too? It seems ridiculous that the network with the broadcast rights have no control over it.

  8. I think Peter Beattie needs to do the right thing and hold an official media conference. None of these causal Sunrise interviews with Kochie taking control.

    Huge, unfathomable disaster of a Closing Ceremony.

      1. And he’s very good at that.

        His next step will be to start acting slightly aggressively annoyed, insisting what’s done is done, bygones are bygones, he’s accepted full responsibility for it, and everybody should just move on.

        The only real interest remaining is whether that’ll happen later today, or tomorrow…

  9. It’s hard to believe these remarks were off the cuff, one suspects ch 7 knew from rehearsals what the likely reaction would be on social media and had this contingency in place.
    Particularly Joh’s Comments seem placed to distance channel 7 from having any part in organising or having their own cameras cover the event.

  10. The noninclusion of the athletes was the major problem, but the ceremony itself was so lacklustre. There were some great performances from confident and reliable singers, but there were some absolutely woeful performances by female singers I have never heard of, who frankly couldn’t sing. You don’t just allow anybody to perform at these major events, they need to be excellent singers who have earned their stripes.

  11. I don’t blame Kate Ceberano for choosing not to sing her own song but sing ‘Get Me Out Of Here’ instead!
    Johanna Griggs for Gold Logie please! The most honest thing I have seen on TV in ages!

  12. I don’t buy the response by Jo and Basil. Surely Channel7 has some say on what is shown because aren’t they main broadcasters.
    Plus the CallumHawkins(ScottishRunner) saga was disgusting.

  13. Don’t give Basil any credit for this, he is weak as you-know-what, trying to be polite about how horrible it all was. Jo had the nouse to say what’s what and is being rightly applauded for it at least. This is a template on how not to do a closing ceremony and any other host city can now remember to celebrate the athletes and never repeat this embarrassing mess.

  14. What a disgrace the whole thing was…cringe worthy ! Good on Jo and Basil for having the guts to say it all….I notice Peter Beattie went on Sunrise this morning to apologise…too little too late ! Who is the host broadcaster David, if it isn’t 7 ??

      1. It doesn’t really help to fan pointless parochialism though – nobody’s had much problem with them doing the OBs & on-site production for the AFL, NRL, cricket, or MKR for years.

        (Well, OK, maybe MKR – but, again, you can’t really blame them for the horrible narrative script 7 insists on…)

  15. Wasn’t just the lack of athletes, the whole thing was woeful, incredibly boring from the aus idol reunion singers, with 30sec song grabs to the incessant speeches, the high light for me was the woeful #BRUM video….just wow, never been so bored…

    1. NEP, an international production / outside broadcast company, contracted directly by the CGF. You’ll find that, for most major events anywhere in the world, the local rightsholding broadcaster hasn’t been the ‘host broadcaster’ for many years. The Olympics, for example, keep their ‘host broadcaster’ in house – OBS (who mostly sub-contract a lot out to someone like NEP)

      Not really buying 7’s excuse though. And the presenters less “read the mood” than had it forcefully tweeted at them for a couple of hours before they said anything…

    2. Something called NEP. Not Seven.
      “NEP Host Broadcast will provide the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games with High Definition television coverage for 11 days of competition from 18 venues encompassing 18 sports and seven para-sports along with the Opening and Closing ceremonies”.
      Google it.

  16. I kept on watching, watching, watching and waiting, waiting, waiting for something great to happen in the extremely boring entertainment stakes then along comes Jo and Basil just before I fell asleep ! Best part of the night for me, they nailed it !

  17. Surely Seven must have known that the ceremony started at a certain time while they were still showing MKR. There must have been rehearsals involving Seven to work out camera angles etc. Surely they could have picked up that the athletes wer not involved. The whole ceremony had a ‘Rock Eistedford’ feel.

    1. That’s the issue. It looked like separate segments thrown together with no cohesion. They trotted out Yothu Yindi to redo their Olympics song but that only emphasised that after 18 years there is still no Treaty. Yeah.

  18. These games will go down in history as being one of the most inclusive, positive feel good stories. I was so proud of all the athletes from all backgrounds who got a chance to represent themselves and their countries. The ceremony should always be about the stars of the show, and I am disappointed we didn’t get a chance to show any of that last night. I don’t know what the organisers were thinking. Thank you to Joh and Basil for speaking up, you made me proud to be an Aussie.

  19. How hard is it to get something like this right. You bring the athletes out and throw them a part with some good live music. Nobody wants to listen to speeches go on and on.

    And they wonder why the Commonwealth Games are considered such a joke around the world.

    P.S. the 2022 host is Birmingham not Manchester.

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