The opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was certainly a visually spectacular event. The British once again pulled out all of the stops acknowledging their historical past as well as taking the mickey out of themselves. It was amazing to see her Majesty the Queen play her part and join in the festivities unlike any other member of the Royal family has before. One has to say the David Beckham boat journey was a little unnecessary and appeared purely tokenism, repaying him for his support in bringing the Games to London. The musical journey down memory lane showed just how many superb musical artists have come out of the British Isles.
The annoying thing for those of us in Australia having to watch was the absolutely diabolical commentary that went with it on Fox Sports courtesy of Tracey Holmes, Matt Shirvington and Rove McManus. Quite why the latter, a very unfunny man – to call him a comedian would be disrespectful to such artists – is even part of the Games coverage is a mystery; his one liners were completely wide of the mark and far from funny and frequently bordered on disrespectful. We also had to endure the three constantly talking over each other, which showed a complete lack of professionalism.
It was sad that Australian viewers were deprived of British commentary as so much of the symbolism and the subtle nuances of the show were completely lost on the three, whose knowledge of British history is understandably limited. When they did read from their program notes, it was abundantly clear that that was exactly what they were doing, reading. They failed to enhance the viewing experience due to a complete lack of enthusiasm. When the nations competing entered the stadium we also had to endure some country’s names or capital cities being mispronounced, which was embarrassing disrespectful and simply unprofessional.
Fox Sports have done a great job offering Australian viewers so many channels of Olympic sport throughout the games. Hopefully the commentary team they have assembled will raise the bar from this opening. Events such as this require specialist sports commentators – a la ABC – in order to educate and show the athletes participating the respect that their efforts deserve, they are no place for people think their jokes are actually funnier than the audience does!