'National shame': Outrage over ABC's 'short-sighted' Olympics call

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

For the first time in 67 years, the Olympics will not be aired on radio by the ABC after the national broadcaster revealed the cost of covering Tokyo event would be too high.

There will be no live commentary of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on ABC Grandstand, after the broadcaster confirmed on Monday that they would not purchase the radio rights from Channel 7.

Scores of ABC broadcasters, past and present, were quick to register their dismay with the decision.

In a statement confirming the news, the ABC said ‘budget pressures’ were one of the key reasons the games would not be broadcast.

Anna Meares carries the Australian flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“The decision was made due to the cost of covering the Games as well as budget pressures and the changing broadcast environment,” a spokesman said.

“This means the ABC will not be providing live commentary for the Olympics on radio, however ABC News and ABC Grandstand will provide daily Olympic updates throughout the event.

Veteran commentators slam ‘national shame’

Several ABC presenters were dismayed by the decision, while the Australian Olympic Team has already called for the broadcaster to reconsider the move.

ABC Grandstand’s Alistair Nicholson, who was part of the commentary team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, said he was gutted to learn of the decision.

“It's an absolutely flat feeling walking in to work this morning. It makes me feel empty in the stomach,” he said.

“I'm not so much disappointed for myself, I'm disappointed for the athletes and for the public."

Fellow broadcoaster Quentin Hull, as well as Canberra-based newsreader Julian Abbott, also hit out at the decision.

“The coverage has always shed a light on amazing stories of not only Australians, but human achievement the world over,” Hull said.

“It's a national shame.”

Abbott said it was a ‘sad state of affairs’, while retired ABC journalist Peter Wilkins said the move showed ‘no respect for history, tradition or Australia's cultural attachment to sport.’

ABC sports journalist Patrick Galloway tweeted on Monday afternoon news that tha Australian Olympic Team was urging the ABC to reconsider, labelling the move ‘monumentally short-sighted’.