Tokyo (dpa) – If millions of sports fans watch the Olympic Games on television in the next few days, they will probably not notice much of the still open questions and the many problems of the TV stations.
Even with sports, television is always a staging – and this time, because of Corona, a lot more effort than usual had to be put into it.
Preparations for the world’s largest sporting event and extensive TV coverage of it take several years. Normally at least, because this time the television companies had to “draw up a new plan every three or four weeks”, as ARD team boss Gerd Gottlob put it in a dpa conversation.
“Another completely new construct”
After the postponement in the previous year due to the corona pandemic, the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF “designed a completely new construct,” said Gottlob. “And then there was another provision here and there again a new rule.” Even shortly before the start of the games, “we are still in the process of adapting and redesigning our plans”.
The absence of viewers at the competitions is one of the many puzzles for the Olympic broadcaster. “We only know that it will be a completely different picture compared to everything we have seen so far of the Summer Olympics,” said ARD team boss Thank god. «By the opening ceremony at the latest: the nations march in – and no one waves back. That’s kind of absurd. “
And then there is the thing with the audience atmosphere from the tape. A background noise from previous Olympic Games is to be played. “This should support the athletes and avoid a sterile atmosphere,” said ZDF sports director Thomas Fuhrmann and added skeptically: “We’ll have to wait and see if the calculation works out.” That doesn’t sound enthusiastic.
ZDF produces in Mainz
The TV stations have been informed of the broadcasts by the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS). That should be done “at a low level”, said the ZDF sports director. Since 2001, OBS has been supplying the international television picture for the International Olympic Committee, which is broadcast by all stations. Comments on the moving images and on-site interviews come from the local broadcasters.
This time the whole thing will not be produced on site, but in Mainz. «The heart of Olympia beats on the Lerchenberg. That’s where the central control room is, ”said Fuhrmann. The ZDF team boss admitted: “We take a certain risk, it has never been produced like this.”
Due to Corona and the effects of the pandemic, a large part of the TV reporting is forcibly created in a large home office in Mainz, where ARD and ZDF even share the studio. Around 180 employees for production and editing work in Japan and “roughly double that” on the Lerchenberg.
“Most of them comment from Mainz for logistical reasons,” explained Fuhrmann: “Only a few are here in Tokyo, for example in athletics.” In the case of ARD, too, the commentary comes mainly from the ZDF studio. “Which doesn’t make it easier,” as team boss Gottlob said. “This is of course not our favorite version, but it is simply due to the pandemic.”
“Corona has had an extreme effect”
It looks similar with Eurosport. With the special interest broadcaster, however, it is also outside of the games that the comments come from the studio. Otherwise, the problems are the same as with ARD and ZDF, which have acquired sub-licenses from the Eurosport parent company Discovery.
“We have now planned the Olympics four times,” said Eurosport sports director Gernot Bauer. “Corona had an extreme effect.” In this case there was at least one positive side effect. A broadcasting center was set up in Unterföhring near Munich that “would not exist without Corona”.