Channel 7’s coverage of the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has become a point of anger and ire for Greek communities of its Australian TV audience when it chose to incorrectly appropriate history and the present day political reality in an irreverent piece of commentary.
In what was seemingly the only point of interest that the Channel 7 team could research on the team from the Former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), they incorrectly linked King Phillip II of ancient Macedonia (and Alexander the Great’s father) with the contemporary nation created in 1944 as part of the now failed sate of Yugoslavia.
As the FYROM team entered the stadium in Rio, Channel 7 commentators Bruce McAvaney and Andrew Gaze presented the quaint ‘fact’ of history that King Phillip was Macedonia’s “first” Olympic gold medallist. That King Philip of Ancient Macedonia did indeed win a gold medal at the ancient Olympics is interesting. He did not however, win it as the King of FYROM.
The contemporary state of FYROM and the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia do not so easily and necessarily correlate.
The inability of the Channel 7 team to understand the sensitivities behind this difference is disappointing given that they are covering a world event.
The throw-away line has offended and incensed Hellenes and Philhellenes world-wide.
The controversial contemporary identity of FYROM is not for Mr McAvaney and Mr Gaze to decide. It is not for them, their producing team or the network that they are all employed at to decide to appropriate Hellenic history in such a flippant manner.
The Greek Community immediately wrote to Network 7 heads and demanded a retraction – something they continue to call upon as no reply has as yet been received.
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