Sochi Opening Ceremony Controversies: From NBC Editing Anti-Discriminatory Speech to Russian TV Hiding Technical Malfunction
By Gopi Chandra Kharel | February 9, 2014 6:22 PM EST
While the grand Olympic Opening Ceremony has been one of the most enjoyed shows across the globe, there is no denying that some TV channels have been arbitrarily trying to control its contents for some odd reasons.
Thomas Bach of Germany gestures during his acceptance speech after he was elected the ninth president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) succeeding Jacques Rogge during a vote in Buenos Aires, September 10, 2013.
Both in the US as well as Russia, editing some parts of the contents by TV channels have culminated into a big debate of whether media must let people see the reality or the altered version of the reality they think is appropriate for the audience.
Right after the lavish show was broadcast live worldwide, news surfaced that a Russian TV later edited out the part during which one of the five Olympic rings failed to open from a glittering snowflake-like object. The channel, instead, ran a footage from the rehearsal with all the rings fully open. It had to save the big ego of Kremlin and Putin, after all!
Below is a tweet that explains it all:
— Steve Wilson (@stevewilsonap) February 7, 2014
Now, it looks like the cold-war era sentiments run not just in the political spears but in the media as well, if what happened in America after the Russian TV controversy is any clue to go by. It can't be said with certainty, but from the face of it, it looks like NBC also wanted to be as notorious as the Russian TV. The channel seemed to be, in fact, even more ambitions. It edited out a big chunk of the anti-discrimination message delivered by IOC president Thomas Bach.
Apart from the apparent if-they-did-it-we-will-also-do-it attitude, we really can't think of a reason why an American channel chose not to include Bach's statement, which all Americans will agree, was meaningful and bold.
Below is the section that did not make it onto TV in the United States (quite unfortunately). Bold section is the most prominant part of the anti-discrimination speech:
"Now you are living in an Olympic Region. I am sure you will enjoy the benefits for many, many years to come. Thousands of volunteers have welcomed us with the well-known warm Russian hospitality. Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers. Bolshoi spasiba, valantyoram! Thank you very much to everyone. Russia and the Russians have set the stage for you, the best winter athletes on our planet. From this moment on you are not only the best athletes, you are Olympic Athletes. You will inspire us with your outstanding sports performances. You have come here for sports. You have come here with your Olympic dream. The International Olympic Committee wants your Olympic Dream to come true. This is why we are investing almost all of our revenues in the development of sports. The universal Olympic rules apply to each and every athlete- no matter where you come from or what your background is. You are living together in the Olympic Village. You will celebrate victory with dignity and accept defeat with dignity. You are bringing the Olympic Values to life. In this way, the Olympic Games, wherever they take place, set an example for a peaceful society. Olympic Sport unites people. This is the Olympic Message the athletes spread to the host country and to the whole world. Yes, it is possible to strive even for the greatest victory with respect for the dignity of your competitors. Yes, Yes, it is possible - even as competitors - to live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason. Yes, it is possible - even as competitors - to listen, to understand and to give an example for a peaceful society."
It is also interesting to see some of the reactions from outraged twitter users:
NBC claims it cut out the anit-discrimination remarks as a time-saving edit. They never seem to tire of insulting our intelligence. #NBCfail — Beth P. (@stuckinoregon) February 9, 2014
Why did NBC edit OUT the anti-discminiation statement last night? WEIRD CHOICE, NBC. http://t.co/FA7lpTdR3M
— Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) February 8, 2014
Why on earth did @nbc edit out IOC president Thomas Bach's statement against "any form of discrimination"? #LGBT http://t.co/fbNvJH1CIx — Bill Werde (@bwerde) February 8, 2014
I dislike NBC's choice to not air the Opening Ceremonies live, have regular commercial breaks, and to edit out various parts of the event.
— Matthew Birt (@Matthew_Birt) February 8, 2014
I like that NBC didn't edit the opening ceremony to show Russia getting the rings right. Tell it like it is #olympics pic.twitter.com/QzlWCF3del — Thomas LeMense (@tlemense) February 8, 2014
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