Commonwealth Games closing ceremony slammed by commentators

Kurt Fearnley carries the Australian flag into the closing ceremony. Photo: AAP
Kurt Fearnley carries the Australian flag into the closing ceremony. Photo: AAP

After claiming gold in his last appearance for Australia, Kurt Fearnley capped off a fairytale end to a decorated career by being awarded the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on Sunday night.

The only problem was the millions of Australians who weren't at the Gold Coast stadium didn't get a chance to see it.

That's because Channel Seven – which had the broadcast rights to the event – were airing My Kitchen Rules instead.

Commentators were quick to explain that Channel 7 did not control the broadcast and that it had been arranged that athletes would be in place before the broadcast began - robbing viewers of Fearnley's crowning moment.

Angered by the Games' organisers' decision to largely exclude athletes from the televised celebration, Seven Network commentators Basil Zempilas and Johanna Griggs - herself a former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist - voiced their fury at the decision.

''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.''

Griggs didn't hold back. ''I’m sorry, you’re being way too polite,'' she said. ''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.

''Actually wrecking a 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... There’s no athletes in here. I’ve never seen the stadium so empty.''

Commentator Johanna Griggs.

Commentator Johanna Griggs.

The hosts went on to laud the performances of the athletes, and commend their sportsmanship.

''We were not able to bring you any pictures because we did not have pictures available to us to bring you,'' Zempilas said. ''It’s a disappointing conclusion.''

Griggs said: ''A little consolation. We had vision of Kurt. We were on the bus before we came in. We weren’t allowed to put it in the ceremony. We’re actually restricted by it. So Kurt actually did have his moment with his teammates which was important. But I just wish we could have had that moment.''