GOLD COAST, Australia — A contrite Commonwealth Games boss Peter Beattie issued a mea culpa Monday for opting not to show the athletes enter Carrara Stadium in the televised portion of Sunday’s closing ceremonies.
Beattie, the Coast Games chair and former Queensland premier, told Channel 7 on Monday morning that the decision was made in consideration of “the welfare of athletes,” so they would not have “to stand in a field for an hour” waiting to get into the stadium.
“Now did we get it wrong? Yes we did get it wrong. Did we stuff it up? Yes we did stuff it up,” he said. “Should they (the athletes) have been a part of the actual ceremony that was broadcast? Of course, they should have been. We got it wrong. I can’t be more honest about it than that,” Beattie said in an interview on the Sunrise morning news show.
Australian media slammed the decision, noting it denied viewers the chance to see para-sport star Kurt Fearnley carrying the Australian flag into the venue. Beattie said he planned to apologize to Fearnley.
Canadian flag-bearer Erica Wiebe was positive on social media.
“What. A. Night! Thank you Canada for this incredible honour,” tweeted the champion wrestler.
Channel Seven’s Johanna Griggs, who was co-hosting the ceremonies, ripped the organizers’ decision while on-camera.
“We’re the Australian rights-holders so we can only show the pictures that are provided by the actual host broadcasters. … I’m furious,” she said. ”They’re actually wrecking a tradition that’s so important and part of the games. You want to see the athletes coming in, you want to see them jumping in front of the camera, you want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport. We missed out on all of that.”
Beattie also acknowledged that the formal part of the proceedings was excessive.
“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he tweeted.
Many athletes and fans left the closing ceremonies early, according to reports.