The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony should have been on Seven last Friday and the competition underway this week and next. Instead Seven’s Olympic team have created two Towards Tokyo documentaries to keep the Olympic dream alive for viewers.
Andy Kay is the head of Olympics for Seven, these days the team he works with at Seven do everything connected with the Olympics except produce live coverage during the event. That used to also be in his job remit: “After Beijing I said this was a young person’s game,” he told Mediaweek. “Now my team does the pre-Games work. The Olympic Games is so big now that it involves every single department in the company. The IOC keep an eye on everything we do as they are careful about their brand.”
As Seven’s head of Olympics in addition to GM of Seven Adelaide, Kay and his team have put together two Olympic Games documentaries that screen on Tuesdays July 28 and August 4. [See details below.]
Kay may not have been in Tokyo though for the 2020 Games, he passes the baton for live coverage of the Games to Seven Sport when competition starts. Kay said he is also the world’s worst flyer, despite having to commute regularly between Adelaide and Sydney.
“Rio 2016 was the last time I was overseas. For Beijing 2008 I made about 30 trips to China because it was such a complicated coverage. It’s not essential for me to be in Tokyo with our smallish team.”
With Tokyo now delayed until 2021, Kay said his team will refresh a lot of the preparations they had been working on. He met with all the Olympic sponsors and the AOC last week, with some brands still joining and others, like airbnb and Alliance, launching their partnerships last week 12 months out.
As we spoke to Kay on the eve of the screening of The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 Uncovered, he said that special was all finished and they were “working like crazy” on getting next week’s doco completed.
“The first documentary revisits Sydney 2000 and we present the Opening Ceremony as is the viewers had been given access to the middle of the Olympic stadium. The ceremony was before it’s time. The people who carried the torch before they handed it to Catherine Freeman were all women. We have spoken to people who worked on it. It has been brought back to life in a way I wasn’t sure if it would work.” Kay also mentioned the great work done by Rhoda Roberts, creative director of the Awakening segment in the opening ceremony and the role of Nikki Webster, who got it despite concerns initially it should have been a role for a boy.
Kay’s team has done close to 90 interviews for the specials.
“The second show is about moments in the Games. Nothing to do with the ceremony. We have re-interviewed competitors from here and all over the world. Roy and HG came back for the special and talked about how everything they did was brilliant and everything Seven did was boring!”
The producers managed to track down walker Jane Saville in Spain, with Kay explaining she is now friends with the Spanish official who disqualified her 150 metres from winning a Gold Medal.
Not everyone approached said “yes” to be interviewed for various reasons. But with around 90 agreeing, they a seem to have the event covered.
The hardest person to track down? Kay: “The aboriginal elder – Djakapurra Munyarryun – who was on top of the tower with Nikki Webster. In his interview he was asked about the one standout memory he has of the night. He replied with a laugh: ‘They didn’t pay me very much’. Djakapurra also recalled his terrible fear of heights, and clinging onto Nikki for dear life.”
Seven’s two Towards Tokyo Olympic specials
The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 Uncovered
Newly-filmed interviews with the people who made that landmark night so special, including:
• Headline acts Vanessa Amorosi, James Morrison, Human Nature, Adam Garcia, Djakapurra Munyarryun and Nikki Webster, whose spectacular performance at just 13 years of age wowed the world
• The creative geniuses behind the Ceremony and two of the world’s greatest show producers, David Atkins and Ric Birch and their contemporaries, the brilliant Dein Perry, Rhoda Roberts, Meryl Tankard, Lex Marinos and Chong Lim
• Performances from John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Tina Arena and Julie Anthony
• Australian Olympic Flag bearer Andrew Gaze and the hometown hero who stole the whole show, Catherine Freeman
• The impressionable youngsters whose Olympic dream was born on that inspirational night: Tokyo 2020 medal contenders Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Jess Fox, Mack Horton, Emma McKeon, Kelsey-Lee Barber and Ellia Green, and Paralympic stars Madison de Rozario, Nic Beveridge and Ellie Cole.
Sydney 2000 Moments that Moved Us
On Tuesday, August 4, Seven will take fans back to the extraordinary two weeks of competition that followed in Sydney with a two-hour special on the Olympic Games.
Hosted by Sunrise’s Mark Beretta, Seven’s Olympic Games experts led by Bruce McAvaney, Johanna Griggs, Mark Beretta, Dennis Cometti, Pat Welsh, Lord Sebastian Coe, Tamsyn Manou and Raelene Boyle have revisited the Games of the XXVII Olympiad and caught up with some of the athletes whose deeds captivated the nation. They include:
• Swimming stars Ian Thorpe, Susie O’Neill, Grant Hackett, Kieren Perkins, Michael Klim, Bill Kirby and Todd Pearson
• Gold medallists Andrew Hoy (equestrian), Lauren Burns (taekwondo), Rechelle Hawkes (hockey), Yvette Higgins (water polo), Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook (beach volleyball), and Belinda Stowell (sailing, 470 Class)
• Silver medalists and fan favourites Tatiana Grigorieva (pole vault) and Ji Wallace (trampoline gymnastics)
• International track and field superstars Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon and Michael Johnson
• Also Roy and HG delivered each night in Sydney with their unique take on the day’s events on The Dream
Seven West Media chief revenue officer and director of Olympics Kurt Burnette added in a statement:
“These moments are etched into Australian minds forever. We’ve seen research prove nostalgia has played a big role in the Australian psyche through COVID-19 and lockdown. We will use these great moments of the past to remind Australia of the good times, the pride and inspiration all of which can come again. Those elements have never been more relevant, to importantly then propel and project forward to Tokyo. To create anticipation and a sense of pride of what is to come. Culminating in a celebration on air across Sunrise, 7NEWS, The Morning Show and our AFL coverage – with more celebration to come in September for the 20-year anniversary of Sydney 2000.”