Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Olympic venues safest for athletes and broadcasters, says CBC boss

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TORONTO -- CBC says it's well-prepared to face the ongoing terrorist threats that hang over the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, noting its coverage plans include detailed scenarios for any sort of problem the broadcaster could encounter.

Without going into detail, programming boss Trevor Pilling says he's also certain Canadian athletes and journalists will be secure, describing "the bubble around the Games" as "probably the safest place to be" in Russia.

"We are spending a lot of time looking at every possibility," Pilling said Thursday, less than one month before the opening ceremonies Feb. 7.

"I believe that our people will be safe -- we wouldn't knowingly send people into something where we think anyone's going to get hurt -- so we believe that the bubble around the Games is probably the safest place to be for athletes and broadcasters.

'I believe that our people will be safe -- we wouldn't knowingly send people into something where we think anyone's going to get hurt -- so we believe that the bubble around the Games is probably the safest place to be for athletes and broadcasters'

-- CBC programming boss Trevor Pilling

"We know that it's going to be interesting, we know the venues are great and the athletes will be there to compete and if a political or those types of stories happen and overtake then we'll follow those stories."

The Sochi Winter Games are already proving to be among the most problematic in history, featuring not only security questions but human rights controversies, massive cost overruns and allegations of environmental damage.

Two suicide bombings in southern Russia last month killed 34 people and wounded many more, highlighting the possibility of terrorists striking civilian targets even if Olympic facilities are under fierce clampdown.

And on Thursday, reports emerged of unexplained killings involving booby-trapped bombs, further stoking fears in advance of the globally watched Games.

Even aside from these concerns, Pilling says the upcoming sports extravaganza is the most complicated he's been part of, noting CBC and its broadcast partners plan record coverage including more than 1,500 hours of TV and another 1,500 hours of online streaming.

"Every aspect of this broadcast is far beyond what our previous Olympics endeavours were -- from the technology, the number of events and days, the number of hours broadcast, the number of platforms it's available (on), how we're working as one company throughout the entire CBC, French and English, how we're working with more sub-licensees and broadcast partners than we ever have and then of course on top of that is the interesting backdrop that is the Sochi Olympics," said Pilling.

The Games can be seen on CBC-TV, CBC Radio One, TSN Radio, TSN, TSN2, Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, the CBC Olympics App and 12 live sports feeds at cbc.ca/olympics.

Pilling promised that every sport will air on an English television network, including 12 new events that start Feb. 6 with the premiere of snowboard slopestyle.

NBC host Bob Costas recently derided the additions as "jackass" events invented to draw younger viewers, but Pilling defended the move as a necessary evolution of the Games.

"I think that it's exciting to see the direction that the Olympics themselves, the (International Olympic Committee), have gone," he said.

"Time will tell. Sports tend to weed themselves out. If they're popular and participated by enough countries around the world they survive."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 C4

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