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..:)

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81 Responses

  1. Something tells me getting Channel 7 to take any responsibility for any negative aspects of anything will be an impossibility,doing the old Teflon Pete big tooth grin/frown pretending to fall on the sword media deflection is a Party trick they never perform

  2. Another creative decision I found “puzzling” was not having Kate Cebrano singing her song Bedroom Eyes. After that song Kate came on and sang the Diviynls “Boys In Town”

    Also I don’t understand why ch 7 who were given a minute by minute breakdown of the closing ceremony the day before didn’t express their concerns to the creatives and organiser as a major stake holder to get access to the unbroadcast footage or get more cameras in to create their own package

    1. Aside from “Sisters (Are Doing It For Themselves”), all of the artists in that section sang songs made famous by other female Australian artists (e.g. Dami Im/Sia, Samantha Jade/Tina Arena, The Veronicas/Kylie Minogue etc. etc. It was a tribute to Australian women by Australian women. I thought it was bizarre when Kate didn’t sing “Bedroom Eyes” and it took me until Dami’s performance to make the connection.

      1. The difference is the other artists weren’t standing right there when someone else sang their song. For Kate Ceberano to waltz out 2 secs after Bedroom Eyes had been massacred and belt out Boys In Town was nothing short of bizarre.

  3. Note – Prior to the Gold Coast closing ceremony all rights holders, including Channel 7, were given a minute-by-minute briefing on Saturday morning detailing how the closing ceremony would unfold –
    complete with 34-page media guide. Channel 7 was free to start its coverage earlier than the ceremony’s designated start time and play its own exclusive footage of the team arriving to the cheers of the crowd but aired an episode of MKR instead. Full story by Tracey Holmes @


      1. Joanna said that they were only allowed to have one camera filming in the stadium during the pre-show, for use in news broadcasts only – she made that very clear in her comments last night.

    1. Johanna Griggs has corrected the article that you shared. So much for ABC news being better than the commercial networks. People just need to do their homework before blabbing.

  4. Isn’t it funny how – when everybody was praising the Games – Seven was happy with people thinking they were responsible and it was “Seven’s Games”. But when people start criticising the closing ceremony Seven wipes their hands of it and dumps on the “host broadcaster” whom nobody had previously known had existed.

    1. Firstly, swimming is very popular. Secondly, ads are necessary if you want to watch for free. Thirdly, Seven did a great job of coordinating the multi-channels, so that when ads came on, you could switch channels and find another event to watch for a bit, then turn back. Least amount of ads during an event that I have ever seen and very hard to return to normal programming.

  5. This is such a hot topic today.
    @tenten and the rest – I suggest you scroll down to read the administrator’s comment before you comment further. He’s still trying to check if the host broadcaster had anything to do with this.

  6. Last night, I found that the Closing ceremony was not enjoyable to watch. I noticed that there were mostly some music performances during the event. The extended speeches made me feel so bored. It wasn’t a very good way to finish off the GC2018 event.

  7. I saw the segment on Birmingham last night. What an ugly, dull and boring city to host the next games. Why people from Australia travel all the way to the UK to go to places like that is beyond me.

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