POSTED: August 19th 2014

JOHN GOODBODY: Olympic TV Channel is a necessity

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The constant problem for many of the Olympic sports is how to maintain interest in their events and their leading competitors between the Games. In many countries, some sports, even track and field athletics, the centrepiece of the Olympics, do not regularly feature in the media.

Of course, it helps if a country has a world or, better still, an Olympic champion in a particular event and nowadays many individuals in those sports do not retire after just one Games because they can often make enough money through sponsorship, prize money or regular funding. This helps to establish them as moderately well-known personalities in their own countries and sometimes globally.

However, many Olympic sports suffer from lack of exposure because they do not have many major events on their calendar. Instead, athletes will concentrate for most of the year on training, building up to a few significant competitions. Rowing, for instance, has three World Cups, annual world championships and now annual European championships. So, leading competitors will often have a maximum of five days in the year when they are taking part in a meaningful international competition with medals being awarded.

This contrasts strikingly with, say, football or basketball, both of which have flourishing club championships, both domestic and international, let alone matches involving national teams. And sometimes, when Olympic sports hold their biggest competitions outside the Games, they clash with  championships in other sports and because of the limited space available on television, radio and newspapers, they cannot always command the time and space that they believe they deserve.

Of course, after consulting with television companies, several governing bodies have ensured that they dovetail their competitions. For instance, last week, Zurich staged the European Athletics Championships, this week Berlin hosts the European Swimming Championships and next week, there are the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. This ensures that many of the continent’s TV stations, as well as pan-European networks, can give a decent amount of time to all three of them.

Still, the International Olympic Committee has recognised that despite the increasing amount of time and space given to sport by the media, reflecting the growth in the number and range of competitions, there is still a need to provide many of the Olympic sports with a more prominent platform.

This is why leading figures in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently supported the proposal of their president Thomas Bach that an Olympic television channel should be established. The creation of this channel would allow many of the sports to flourish between the Games. In a statement, the IOC said that the officials: ”recognised the potential  greatly to increase the presence of sports and the promotion  of the Olympic values year-round and worldwide. The IOC will contact all the relevant stakeholders in the coming months to develop the concept further.” This will include the international federations, sponsors, national Olympic committees and broadcasters and would use the National Geographic Channel as its model.

One could envisage that apart from showing major events, there could be the opportunity for magazine and features as well as news programmes to be screened.  In addition, the history of the Games could be recalled in manageable chunks.

This initiative is part of Bach’s vision, Olympic Agenda 2020, and will be considered at the IOC Session in Monaco on December 8 and 9. It is an excellent idea and deserves to be supported.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

Keywords · John Goodbody · Olympics · IOC

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.