The Tokyo Olympics has kicked off. Besides the joy of watching athletes excel in their respected sports, the Olympics always serves as an opportunity for media blunders.
The Games officially commenced on Friday, and the coverage of the Olympics has already managed to make its own headlines.
The opening ceremony kicked off with a Canadian reporter who made a fatal error when he incorrectly referred to Indigenous Australian athlete Patty Mills as a woman.
The reporter interrupted the moving moment of Patty Mills and swimmer, Catty Campbell jointly carrying The Australian flag, to interject with this now infamous clanger: “And you know what, I think they had two women carry the flag.
“Cate Campbell the swimmer and Patty Mills the basketball player.”
Naturally, Twitter had some thoughts about the misgendering of Mills.
— JACKI MITCHELL 🇦🇺 (@JackiMitchellAU) July 23, 2021
we get Bruce the Olympic Encyclopaedia, Canada gets a dude calling Patty Mills a woman. https://t.co/81ptmZRJKB
— Lachy France (@lachyheel) July 23, 2021
🤦♀️Canadia called Patty Mills a woman 😂 https://t.co/QnNgwO55oJ
— Shelley⚓ (@wheresshelly) July 23, 2021
While that Canadian reporter definitely made a blunder, he was quite clearly outdone by South Korean television station MBC, who took a very unique approach to the coverage of the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
The station made a series of offensive blunders, in an attempt to give context to its viewers.
As Italian athletes arrived at the opening ceremony the station put up an image of a pizza. Team Romania’s introduction was accompanied by an image of Dracula. El Salvador was identified with a picture of cryptocurrency. The Queen’s image appeared when the United Kingdom team arrived.
More jarringly, when Ukrainian athletes entered the arena, MBC moved away from stereotypes and instead of using an image of a chicken Kiev, the broadcaster decided to go with an image of the Chernobyl disaster – one of the worst nuclear incidents in history.
And they just kept coming. The station did not stop at stereotypes and cliches as a way to introduce countries to its viewers.
When Haiti’s athletes appeared on the screen, their appearance was met with a caption that read: “The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president.”
Syrian athletes were treated to the same offensive treatment, with a caption that read: “Rich underground resources: a civil war that has been going on for 10 years.”
Unsurprisingly, social media erupted.
Mbc just ruined the mood of Olympics https://t.co/NlXfdLos0L
— TVfXQ Soul (@thejjkimm) July 24, 2021
I just found out the MBC Tokyo Olympics controversy. LOL as a journalist my self, what they did is far from a mistake. It's disaster 😂 how could they did that😂 All i can see is it's intentional or it was made by an internship on his 1st day 🤣
— Mituanzy🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥 (@Mituanzy) July 24, 2021
Totally disrespectful. The government should give MBC a red flag or warning. Using inappropriate or disrespectful introduction to introduce several countries in Olympic opening ceremony is truly unprofessional.
I don't know why they thought it was okay for doing it.
— areecalifornia (@liebe_areeca) July 24, 2021
MBC has since issued an apology, the statement read: “The images and captions are intended to make it easier for the viewers to understand the entering countries quickly during the opening ceremony.
“However we admit that there was a lack of consideration for the countries concerned and inspection was not thorough enough. It is an inexcusable mistake.”
The broadcaster, thankfully, also announced it would review its editorial process.
Meanwhile, Channel Seven angered Australian viewers when it failed to broadcast The Matilda’s soccer game, to include the team’s first goal, you couldn’t even catch the moment on Seven’s streaming service.
Matilda fans took to Twitter, to share their disappointment.
— Dillon Maikousis (@dmaikousis) July 24, 2021
— David brooks (@Davidwebrooks) July 24, 2021
'Disgrace' is the right term for Seven.
'Disgrace' – Channel Seven slammed for Matildas mishap during Olympics loss to Sweden https://t.co/4jRCIXn6hP
— Marty C. (@MCharoensak) July 25, 2021
However, it wasn’t just the media that were making blunders. Poor Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten threw her hands in the air to celebrate winning gold, only to be told she’d actually won silver.
Later, the cyclist tearfully told reporters that she really did think she had won gold.
While it seems too hard to imagine, the coverage could get any worse, anything can happen at the Olympics.