It’s beyond question that the Olympics are the biggest show on Earth, let alone the biggest sporting event. So, it’s only natural that we expect perfection not only from the athletes on the track, but the people behind the cameras and the presenters tasked with holding everything together.
Since Saturday though, the knives have been coming out, following the troubled coverage of the men’s road cycling event, which saw home favourite Mark Cavendish’s hoped of an Olympic gold crumble. While it’s right to not accept everything as amazing, we mustn’t grumble too much, as what the BBC is doing is simply brilliant.
The best thing about the Olympics is the sheer variety of sports. At no other sporting event can you go from archery to sailing via the javelin. What the BBC has done is capitalise on that. They’re brilliant red-button service is absolutely beyond reproach. Giving you the ability to nearly seamlessly pop between all the sports on offer, it gives you the opportunity to watch stuff you may have never watched before, even at a previous Olympics.
They also do the normal things excellently too.
It’s not all positivity, as the BBC’s coverage of the men’s road race had more flaws than that. The hearing of the control room and some truly terrible questions being asked by reporters (that they asked the new Olympic champion Alexandre Vinokourov if the world had ganged up on Team GB was pretty pathetic) were the icing on a rather unpleasant cake.
These are mistakes that they simply shouldn’t be making, but let’s cut them some slack. This is the best I can remember these events being broadcast and it makes it nigh on impossible to leave the sofa. The sheer breadth of coverage is simply staggering, as viewers can choose at the drop of a hat what sport to watch when. That the coverage for all the concurrent sports is to a very high level is an enormous feat.
All the complaints the BBC had to field concerning the occasional piece of shoddy camera work and the lack of information on screen during the cycling is completely silly too. The BBC has absolutely no control over either the pictures or the captions and timing, they simply get them from the IOC and have to deal with the fallout.
This is an issue that affects all live, major sport, not just the Olympics. The exact same rules apply to top level football, tennis and motorsport. You may even have heard commentators moaning about it. If the pictures are bad, that’s not the BBC’s fault. That they come out and apologise for something they have zero control over speaks of their maturity.
The alternatives were shown in all to clear a light last year though when Channel 4 took it upon themselves to show us what the world would be like without the BBC’s fantastic sports coverage. Squirm inducingly bad jokes and a complete lack of knowledge dogged Channel 4’s coverage of last year’s Athletics World Championships.
BBC Sport have been criticised for letting some sporting spectacles go to other networks or failing to be on location with others, but if the result has been this enormous Olympics coverage, then that seems like a fair trade.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith