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'Clearly a stuff-up': Commonwealth Games boss apologises for closing ceremony

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A contrite Peter Beattie has apologised for the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony after athletes were left out of the broadcast, earning a scathing on-air broadside from the Channel Seven hosts.

Mr Beattie, the chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, admitted speeches were “too many and too long” in the ceremony on Sunday night, and said he should not have talked at all during the event.

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Closing ceremony broadcast slammed for excluding athletes

Seven Network commentators voiced their fury at the decision to largely exclude athletes from the televised celebration.

"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.

During Seven's coverage, a "furious" Johanna 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.

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.

''Look, we understand many people have been disappointed by tonight’s closing ceremony,'' Zempilas said. ''To be perfectly honest, Jo, so have we. It hasn’t really lived up to expectations.''

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Griggs, herself a former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, didn't 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 flagbearer, Kurt Fearnley, or other flagbearers.

“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.”

Mr Beattie appeared on Seven's Sunrise program on Monday to apologise, having issued tweets earlier in the day.

"The reality was that the athletes came in as part of the preshow, but that wasn't shared with viewers," he said.

"That was clearly a stuff-up. I am sorry, and if I get a chance, I will apologise to Kurt this morning."

He tried to explain the decision of event organisers through his tweets.

"This decision to bring the athletes into the stadium before the broadcast was operationally driven given there were restrictions on being able to keep the athletes waiting in comfort. We were driven by the welfare of athletes," one read.

“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the Closing Ceremony. However, having them come into the stadium in the pre-show meant the TV audience were not able to see the athletes enter the stadium, alongside flag bearers. We got that wrong."

Griggs said the closing ceremony should have been all about the athletes.

“You want to see the athletes come in. You want to see them jumping in front of the camera. You want to see them celebrating 11 days of great sport,” she said.

“We missed out on all of that... There’s no athletes in here. I’ve never seen the stadium so empty.''

The part of the closing ceremony that was broadcast included performances from local musicians including Amy Shark, Guy Sebastian, Yothu Yindi, Kate Cebrano and Dami Im.

Mr Beattie said people were understandably angry over the closing ceremony coverage, and ultimately the buck stopped with him.

"I am not interested in blaming anyone else," he said. "We stuffed it up and I apologise to the viewers and the athletes."

With Joe Hinchliffe

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