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London Olympics 2012: ‘Never miss a moment’ – any sport on demand, every day.

By GIL STERN STERN KARPAS
July 19, 2012 14:09
4 minute read.
Channel 1

Channel 1. (photo credit: Raffi Deloya)

 
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LONDON – When the Summer Olympics were last held in London in 1948, a post-war impoverished Europe came together in the British capital after having had two scheduled games canceled by war. Due to the economic climate and the post-war rationing these games were dubbed the “Austerity games.” Yet despite the ravaging effects of almost a decade of conflict, 59 nations turned up to be represented. The opening ceremony involved 85,000 spectators crammed into Wembley Stadium with army bands, a royal address and 2,500 pigeons.

This year, things have come a long way as the games return to London. In Beijing in 2008, the world marveled at the sheer scale of the production, the number of choreographed participants and the grand scale of the fireworks display. The British have taken up the challenge and engaged one of their greatest film directors as the visionary for the opening pageant, Danny Boyle.

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The stadium will be transformed into a vision of “a green and pleasant land,” which is a very symbolic lyric taken from, what is considered Britain’s most resonant hymn, “Jerusalem,” by poet William Blake. To bring this vision to life, 10,000 volunteers have been working on the show, which will be on a set that will feature meadows, fields and rivers, farmers working the land, families having picnics, and sports being played on the village green. This rural idyll will feature real farmyard animals grazing in this “countryside.”

While this may have been the image people would have instantly expected of Britain back in 1948, Boyle has sought to bring this sense of rural British identity to the 21stcentury global stage.

With one billion people worldwide expected to watch the opening ceremony, not only will all eyes be on the participants, but all ears will also be on the broadcasters to deliver and represent the games to the people.

In an interview with Dave Gordon, head of Olympics for BBC Sport, he talks about how they had been involved in the planning and delivery of the games as the host country’s domestic broadcaster.

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How long has the broadcasting been in the planning?
I started working on the idea of a London Olympics at the end of 2003. At the time there was the idea to bid for the games, and the planners came to the BBC for some advice. So when the envelope was opened and the news was announced, that got us thinking about the ideas we might bring to London.

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With so many different events and athletes, what are the main challenges to providing the same level of excellence in delivery as the participants do in their performance?
The host broadcaster is OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services), which is part of the IOC. They provide the core coverage of all the sport, while our job is to provide coverage that befits a British audience. The technology now enables us to actually deliver every sport to our audience via the online environment and through the on-demand interactive broadcasting. The audience can watch what they want, when they want.

As head of Olympics, BBC Sport, what is the most satisfying aspect of the job?
I will only be satisfied if the public perception is that the BBC did the British public and the Olympics proud. There is no sense of self-satisfaction. We are just going to do our damnedest to do the best job we can to serve all our audiences.

What do sports mean to you?
I’m a great believer in the emotion of sports, and that’s what will resonate with our audience. It’s the great stories of people who have triumphed over adversity and about remarkable human beings, and I think that’s what we will celebrate and that’s what I feel our audiences will want to celebrate, too.

What do feel is different about your coverage than that of the Beijing Olympics?
I think it’s the breadth of the offer. We are offering every session of every sport, every day. If you want to watch six hockey matches a day, then you can watch just that. Our strapline for the games is “Never miss a moment.”And due to the technology on offer, this is the first Olympic Games that we’ve been actually able to say that.

What’s your next project after the Olympics?
This is my 10th summer Olympics, and I’m actually leaving the BBC after 40 years at the end of the year.

I think the time is right. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m open to offers.

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London will begin on Friday, July 27.

Channel 1 will broadcast the opening ceremony live at 11 p.m. The closing ceremony will be broadcated on August 12 at 11 p.m.

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