Written by Politics, Sport

Olympic Golds and Looking Forward To 2012

This morning saw three more British golds, particularly a pair in the sprints at the Velodrome with Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy winning.
But I’m now beginning to get concerned about the logisitics of 2012. No, I’m not thinking about how we can possibly top the Chinese opening ceremony, it’s more to do with the timing of the events.
As has been widely pointed out, US network NBC got the IOC to move the swimming finals into mornings local Beijing time, so that they’d be able to broadcast events live in the US primetime (8pm – 11pm eastern time).
But 8pm eastern time is 1am UK time, and 2am for most of Europe.
A short piece in today’s Guardian speculates that NBC might put the IOC under similar pressure in the UK to reschedule events into a post midnight slot. The Olympics have been phenominally successful for NBC so far, and all the more important given that they spend $1 billion for the rights to the summer games. But they do things like not broadcasting the mens’ 100m final live, but holding off several hours to show it in the much more lucrative post 8pm timeslot.
Could the 100m or swimming finals be scheduled for post midnight or 1am? I just can’t see it. It would screw up the athletes’ body-clocks for starters. And, as I say, it wouldn’t just inconvenience British viewers, but also the rest of Europe and Africa, all of whom have had to do without live evening coverage of the games this time around.
I know that boxing takes place in the UK at incredibly unsociable hours, but the blue riband events of a UK sport in stadia full to capacity in the small hours? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
I think atheltics finals are likely to be scheduled for around 9pm local time in 2012, with key events like the 100m and 200m taking place on Saturday or Sundays. That allows US broadcasters to carry them in late afternoon slots when sports viewing is traditionally strong. And if they want to delay coverage for a few hours then so be it. It seems likely that the 2016 games will be in a timezone more suited to the US anyway (and I’m guessing Chicago will get it one way or another), so they’ll just have to make do. There’ll be an incredible outcry if they do otherwise.
While NBC might be spending $1bn on the 2012 games for coverage the UK government is spending £9.3bn ($18bn) on putting on the games. So let’s keep things into perspective.