“At best it’s lazy journalism, at worst it’s deceitful; I don’t know where it sits in the spectrum, but it’s appalling”. Bill Papastergiadis’ comment echoes the sentiments of Greek-Australians, after listening to Bruce McAvaney and Andrew Gaze’s commentary on the Rio Olympics’ opening ceremony. During the national delegations’ parade, the Channel 7 commentators offered what McAvaney called ‘a piece of history’, when they attributed King Philip II of Macedonia to FYROM, stating that the ancient king was the country’s first olympian.
“At an event which highlights the important contribution of Greece to global unity and sport it was disturbing that the Australian presenters were ignorant of basic history and the contributions of Greece to the event for which they were in fact broadcasting”, says the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne. “It was incumbent upon us to Immediately write to Channel 7, seeking a retraction and an apology”, he says.
Addressed to the Executive Chairman of Seven Network Limited, Kerry Stokes, the letter reads as follows:
Dear Mr Stokes,
It is with particular frustration and significant ire that we write to you today to protest at your network’s inflamed throw away comment during this morning’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games.
Our organisation is the oldest and largest Greek community organisation in the world outside of Greece and does not take to letters of complaint lightly.
Your announcers this morning presented as uneducated and insensitive sports jocks whose throwaway line about Alexander the Great as the team from the Former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) entered the stadium was simply wrong and politically inflammatory.
The United Nations and the vast majority of the world’s sovereign states acknowledge FYROM as exactly that – FYROM and this former creation of General Tito as part of the failed state of Yugoslavia should not at all be confused with the historic and ancient Greek state of Macedonia.
To simply say in a throw-away line that FYROM’s first gold medal at the games was won by King Philip of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s Father) is wrong on so many levels and offensive to every Hellene and philhellene who know their history and understands the importance of identity and cultural lineage.
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.
Finally, we request that an on-air retraction be made and that this be made in earnest.