Nervous broadcasters training for Beijing Olympics

Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:00am EST
 
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By Pip Bulbeck and Scott Roxborough

SYDNEY/COLOGNE (Hollywood Reporter) - Certain horrifying prospects come to mind as the West gets ready to descend on Beijing to cover the 2008 Olympic Games.

Imagine someone like "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David ending up in Beijing stumbling through one social gaffe after another like he does on his home turf of Los Angeles in the award-winning series.

OK, so that's a worst-case scenario, but among the world army of TV producers now in the throes of preparation for next year's visit to the Orient, there are substantial, if lesser, fears. Even those producers who have covered multiple Olympics know this is going to be different. Some are prepared to do battle with the Beijing authorities to protect their journalistic freedoms if need be.

At least one major broadcaster is set to bring its own medical team, hire hundreds of translators -- even supply its own drinking water.

Andy Kay, executive producer of sport for Australian broadcaster Seven Network, reckons that the best Olympic event next year will be watching 17,000 wide-eyed Western media folk arrive at the Beijing airport.

Although Seven is one of the most experienced Olympics broadcasters, Kay says that experience will count for nothing in Beijing.

"It's not like anywhere else," he says. "The more you go, the more things you find that need to be dealt with, but the more you go, the more you become familiar with the place as well."

For a start, it will be the first Olympic city where almost no one speaks English. That little problem is one that the more studious of Seven's 300-strong Beijing team are trying to overcome by taking Mandarin language lessons -- unsuccessfully, Kay adds. So just in case, he will employ about 100 translators from Beijing's universities or a 60,000-strong volunteer corps.   Continued...

 
<p>A general view of the National Olympic Stadium in Beijing in this May 17, 2007 file photo. Even producers who have covered multiple Olympics know this is going to be different. Some are prepared to do battle with the Beijing authorities to protect their journalistic freedoms if need be. REUTERS/Alfred Cheng Jin</p>