The venerable BBC has turned rabid over the Games
If Australia’s coverage of the Olympic Games in 2000 was as narrow and nasty as Britain’s this year we should be apologizing to the world and examining the shallowness of our national self esteem.
In every Olympics the home media has been a cheer squad for the local athletes. It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. Lord knows we’re good at it. The BBC’s coverage has been all that. Plus, it has included the usual appropriation of the individual efforts of athletes for the national credit. “We’ve done it and we’ve done it in style,” said a hugely excited chap after a British boat crossed the line for a gold medal last week.
Actually four British rowers had been stylish. Mr Excitable was merely a BBC commentator who had never pulled an oar in competitive exertion in his life.
But the coverage has gone further and the BBC has adopted North Korean modes of one-eyed and hostile perspectives. And for some reason Australia has been the target of much of the nastiness.
This was obvious from day one.
On the opening day the Brits did not win the men’s cycling road race. Other riders were accused of ganging up on the valiant Team GB riders and of not helping them win. This was a singular but persistent view of what competition was all about.
One BBC fellow worked out that after Brad Wiggins’ Tour de France victory the rest of the world had decided that Britain should be denied further road racing glory. And he was serious.
The Germans and the Americans were said to be part of this cycling conspiracy, but a particular venom was saved for the Australians. I still don’t know why. Even when British athletes started winning the animosity towards Australia did not relent.
When Anna Meares won at the velodrome the BBC told its considerable audience it was little wonder the Australians were happy because the nation had been so unsuccessful elsewhere these Olympics.
It was a churlish, boof headed remark which apart from slighting an entire nation was personally demeaning ofMs Meares, whose chief offense had been to defeat local star Victoria Pendleton. I have dipped into the BBC coverage of the Games while holidaying in north-east Scotland and so might have missed glowing testimonials for Australian performances. But I doubt it.
“It’s the London Games, not the British Games,” said an unimpressed Aberdeenshire cynic.
But others elsewhere were deeply impressed. “I don’t know if I can take any more gold medals,” gushed a BBC woman in mock exhaustion on Wednesday morning. Clearly, reflecting in the triumphs of others is hard work.
When the closing ceremony is completed the Brits will revel in their medal accumulation and snigger at Australia’s small tally. It will help take the minds of voters away from concerns about an economy in recession.
Maybe Australia deserves the special attention and sneers because of our lop sided coverage in 2000. But we couldn’t have been as bad as this.
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