Seven Network’s presenter Andrew Gaze, while hosting of the opening ceremony alongside sports journalist Bruce McAvaney referred to FYROM as being the home of Alexander the Great and King Phillip causing the outrage not only of the Greek Australians but of Greeks worldwide.
The first mobilised by the major gaffe, were the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, along with hundreds of viewers who took to Facebook and Twitter to complain, sharing their disappointment towards Gaze who in fact used to play basketball professionally in Greece.
This is how it went:
Andrew Gaze: “Greatest ancient Olympic Champion was? Macedonian and his name was Phillip the second, father of Alexander the Great.”
Bruce McAvaney: “And a bit of history about Macedonia.”
Gaze responded on Twitter, saying that “If it is incorrect or wasn’t communicated correctly, I sincerely apologise,” sharing a photo of the script.
Meanwhile, a similar misappropriation of history took place on national American television when commentators from NBC network referred to FYROM as the homeland of Greece’s historical figures.
In a letter to the broadcaster, the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria accused the network of “ignorance of history citing known historical fact that in antiquity, only Greeks were permitted to take part in the Olympics yet when mentioning Alexander the Great’s participation in the ancient games, it was during the entrance of FYROM, a Slavic nation whose history clearly has nothing to do with the Macedonian general of antiquity.”
Neos Kosmos’ Greek edition also featured the story on its front page voicing the Greek Community’s demands calling for an official retraction and apology from the Australian network.
“I urge you to educate your staff on nothing more than what is the internationally accepted name for the state known as FYROM and request that they do not re-write history for cheap amusement or to fill in broadcast time”, wrote Bill Papastergiadis.
Today, the Greek Embassy from Canberra also issued an official statement asking for Channel 7 to retract the comments and rectify the comments.