'WE GOT IT WRONG': Commonwealth Games Chairman apologises after ditching a key tradition from the closing ceremony

Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)Former sprinter Usain Bolt appears at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Chairman Peter Beattie has admitted organisers “got it wrong” when they ditched the tradition of athletes marching into the stadium as part of the closing ceremony.

The move provoked broadcast partner Channel 7 to launch a massive spray at the end of the night, while fans departed the two-hour ceremony early as it was dominated by singers from reality TV shows, slam poets, interpretive dancing and several speeches from politicians.

The Games chairman is scrambling to explain the decision today, saying they “wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony”, but admitted on Twitter that he was part of the problem too.

On Seven’s Sunrise program Beattie apologised.

“We stuffed it up and I apologise to the viewers and the athletes,” he said.

The move left Seven commentators Basil Zempilas and Johanna Griggs defending the station from accusations that it was to blame.

At the end of the ceremony, Griggs said she was “furious” with the games organisers for wrecking tradition.

Zempilas began, saying they “did get it wrong tonight”.

“We understand many people have been disappointed by tonight’s Closing Ceremony. To be perfectly honest Jo, so have we. It hasn’t really lived up to expectations,” he said.

Griggs replied that he was being “way too polite”, adding that the she’d “never seen the stadium so empty” and blaming the host broadcaster.

“People are thinking that Channel 7 has chosen not to show pictures of athletes or not to show the flagbearer, Kurt Fearnley or other flagbearers,” she 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.”

Fearnley, competing in his final games, led the Australian team into the stadium having won the wheelchair marathon earlier on Sunday.

The host broadcaster is hired by Games organisers to provide footage globally, including to Seven.

Griggs, a former games competitor, was livid.

“I’m furious, actually wrecking a tradition that is so important,” she said.

“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.”

Zempilas also laid into the politicians involved for being self-indulgent.

“We’ve never seen a stadium as empty as this. So soon after the conclusion of a Closing Ceremony. To be brutally honest, most of the athletes left during the ceremony,” he said.

“The speeches, look we understand the dignitaries need to get their messages out there, including the Birmingham presentation. They were way too long tonight. Way too long. Dare I say a little self indulgent.”

The criticism was also widespread on social media.

Athlete Kurt Fearnley is unfussed by all the drama today, and last night Seven aired footage it had shot earlier of the wheelchair athlete with the flag, but was blocked from screening due to licensing restrictions.

ABC broadcaster Tracey Holmes suggest Seven should have been more forceful.

But everyone agreed the competition itself was amazing.

Australia topped the medal count with 198: 80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze, ahead of England with 136 medals, including 45 gold.

Fearnley summed up the mood of the athletes.

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