ABC Ends Live Olympic Radio Broadcasting After Nearly Seven Decades

(RUN219) 25th September, 2000. Sydney Olympic Games. Athletics at Stadium Australia. Womens 400m Final. Australia's Cathy Freeman walks a lap of honour, carrying the Australian and Aboriginal Flags, after winning Gold in the Womens 400m Finals. (AAP PHOTO/Dean Lewins).

The ABC has confirmed it will not buy the non-commercial Australian radio rights for Tokyo 2020, bringing an end to 67 years of broadcasting the Olympics live on radio.

An ABC spokesperson said it was a “tough decision”, citing “budget pressures” and Australians’ increasing options to access coverage of the Olympics in other formats.

The spokesperson said: “The decision was made due to the cost of covering the Games as well as budget pressures and the changing broadcast environment.

“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.”

The spokesman said it was an “incredibly tough decision” but the ABC had to consider other budget priorities and Australians’ increased ability to access Olympics coverage in other ways.

While the ABC buys the non-commercial radio rights off Seven, the official Olympics broadcaster, sources told the Sydney Morning Herald the issue was around staffing the 16 days of competition.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher said ABC’s decision will “surprise” and “disappoint” Australians, adding it is the responsibility of the ABC’s board and management to explain its decision.

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