TVNZ silent after after being criticised for cutting to ads during moment of silence

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Sat, 24 Jul 2021, 2:01PM
The Olympic flame is finally lit in Tokyo's National Stadium. (Photo / AP)
The Olympic flame is finally lit in Tokyo's National Stadium. (Photo / AP)

TVNZ silent after after being criticised for cutting to ads during moment of silence

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Sat, 24 Jul 2021, 2:01PM

TVNZ has decided to stay quiet after copping criticism for flicking to an ad break during a moment of silence in the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony.

The moment was to honour those who had died throughout the world over the past 18 months because of Covid-19 that the ceremony paused for a minute's silence.

At that same moment, TVNZ's coverage cut from Tokyo to an advertisement break, immediately sparking a flood of outrage on social media.

While TVNZ had made viewers aware beforehand the coverage would not be an uninterrupted affair, it had noted it would only cut to ad breaks at carefully chosen moments.

"Kia ora! We'll have ad breaks tonight where appropriate, and pick our moments carefully, so we don't interrupt the ceremony," TVNZ posted on its official Twitter account.

TVNZ declined to comment when contacted by the Herald. A spokeswoman said: "We don't have anything further to add."

The response from viewers to this statement was equally emotional.

The Tokyo Olympics officially commenced on Friday night withΒ an opening ceremony that was a bizarre, beautiful and, for many New Zealand viewers, frustrating affair as they took to social media to vent at broadcaster TVNZ's coverage.

From the deserted stands in Tokyo's 60,000-seat national stadium - stands sadly destined to remain empty for the next fortnight - to the meagre delegations that attended the athletes' parade, to the pockets of protesters camped outside the stadium shouting "Cancel the Olympics", this Olympics is destined to be like no other, for one good reason we are all well aware of.

Β 

And so it was to honour those who had died throughout the world over the past 18 months because of Covid-19 that the ceremony paused for a minute's silence.

At that same moment, TVNZ's coverage cut from Tokyo to an advertisement break, immediately sparking a flood of outrage on social media.

While TVNZ had made viewers aware beforehand the coverage would not be an uninterrupted affair, it had noted it would only cut to ad breaks at carefully chosen moments.

"Kia ora! We'll have ad breaks tonight where appropriate, and pick our moments carefully, so we don't interrupt the ceremony," TVNZ posted on its official Twitter account.

The state broadcaster has been contacted for more coment.

The response from viewers to this statement was equally emotional.

Bizarre and beautiful - and desperately sad

If the job of an opening ceremony is to reflect the spirit of the moment then this one succeeded. It was rather beautiful in its own way. Simple. It did not try to match the power or scale of Beijing 2008, when thousands of drummers banged the Games open with military precision. Or the charm or originality of London 2012 with its Danny Boyle-inspired history of Britain that had the rest of the world bemused and amused in equal measure - not least when Her Majesty was pushed out of a helicopter by James Bond.

This ceremony was not a carnival of colour and samba beats like Rio de Janeiro five years ago. It was a reflection of the times we live in.

The New Zealand Olympic team make their entrance during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony. (Photo / Photosport)

An Olympics dogged by controversy, delayed by 12 months, but still taking place in the grip of a global pandemic, opened with minimal fanfare, certainly by the standards of these mega-events. This must have been the first Olympic opening ceremony where volunteers outnumbered attendees. Just 900 stakeholders and VIPs and 3500 members of the media were in the stands.

Roughly the same as the number of athletes, in fact. With most of them terrified of catching Covid-19 or being identified as "close contacts" of those who do - a fate which has already left six Team GB athletes confined to quarters for an indefinite length of time - not many were prepared to take the risk of leaving the relative safety of the Olympic Village.

It is a desperately sad state of affairs for a country which hosted such a magnificent Rugby World Cup 20 months ago, and a people who could not have been more welcoming or excited about the prospect of hosting the Greatest Show on Earth.

There were moments of hope, of levity; the Argentinean delegation bouncing around excitedly, reminding us that this is the biggest moment of these athletes' lives as sportspeople and they are right to grab it with both hands. Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan taekwondo practitioner and skier, who marched shirtless five years ago and was back with more baby oil than ever. Britain's Moe Sbihi, a 6ft8in rower, towering over his fellow flagbearer, 5ft2in sailor Hannah Mills. The blue smurf-like figures doing their pictograms of the different Olympic sports was fun. And the "drone globe" - 1824 drones flying in unison above the stadium in the shape of the Earth - was inspired.

The Olympic flame is finally lit in Tokyo's National Stadium. (Photo / AP)

But mostly it was rather sad. Japanese police had erected a perimeter around the stadium to keep spectators away. Thousands turned up anyway, waiting patiently outside without anything to watch.

They were interspersed with pockets of protesters. Not many, but enough to be heard every time there was a silence in proceedings inside the stadium - such as for the moment of remembrance for loved ones no longer with us.

It was a poignant reminder that those who want these Games to take place cannot get in, and those who do,not cannot stop it. Nothing can stop this now.

The hope is that it does not run out of control and for the next two weeks the world's best athletes, from Simone Biles to Adam Peaty to Naomi Osaka - the face of the Games who ultimately lit the cauldron at close to midnight local time - will offer moments of genius and wonder and joy and make us forget. Imagine there's no covid? I wonder if we can. Let the Games commence.