INTERVIEW: Tokyo 2020 Sport Climbing on the BBC - Broadcasting an Olympic Debut

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 UKC Articles 15 Jul 2021

Just as the 40 climbing athletes are preparing to compete on the world's biggest sporting stage, a team of media professionals are getting ready to present our sport to the world at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this August. 

BBC Sport will be leading the UK Olympic coverage, with commentary from snowsports presenter Ed Leigh and IFSC commentator, route setter and climbing wall manager Mike Langley, with GB Climbing's Molly Thompson-Smith adding insight in the BBC studio. It'll be a very different Games to previous editions, with most production taking place in the BBC's Salford studios, including the Sport Climbing commentary. 

UKClimbing will also have an on-the-ground presence, COVID-testing permitting. Stay tuned for daily written reports and videos from Tokyo on this website, our social media channels and on Natalie's Instagram from 29 July. 

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In reply to UKC Articles:

"I've watched a fair bit of climbing now and there is a temptation to fall in to the action sports trap of talking constantly, when in a sport like climbing the tennis or golf approach of using silence as a tool to build tension around the action works really well."


In reply to UKC Articles:

That’s a really interesting article. Kudos!

 JLS 15 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

So from the UK where can we watch the best coverage of Olympic climbing?

From that article, I fear the volume BBC coverage might compare favourably with the usual full IFSC youtube coverage. Are Eurosport likely to do better than the BBC for climbing?

 Andy Gamisou 15 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC Articles:

Molly was great providing (let's be honest) much needed assistance to Matt Groom(?) (apologies if I've got the name wrong) on Chamonix.  Her articulate expert insight was a highlight to the women's lead finals coverage - although I must admit the actual climbing wasn't bad either.  Well done the BBC in recognizing this.

In reply to UKC Articles:

It's hard to tell if the climbing will definitely be covered live, even if online? Or will we have to just wait for the highlights to go on the website later - a huge disappointment if so.  

Good article though.

In reply to UKC Articles:

I really hope they bring energy and the insight required. The problem with comp commentary at the moment is that it all feels a bit pally and Manchester centric, we need the background knowledge athlete of Denise Lewis and the critique of Michael Johnson, if they can get close to that tone it will be great. A hard job as I well know, good luck team

 apwebber 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Edshakey:

Yeah it's impossible at the moment to know what will be covered on the BBC because it depends on what other sports are taking place at the same time and whether GB athletes are taking part. I guess we just have to hope for the best and / or find an online stream from some other source...

 matt1984 16 Jul 2021
In reply to apwebber:

Is it not the case that they have everything available to stream? Pretty sure that's how it's worked in the last couple of games. I bloody love the fencing and I remember having no problem watching any of it, even from the early rounds. I think they just have a live feed of each sport, sometimes with no commentary.

I think Matt Groom's been good on the IFSC coverage tbh too, but interested to see how the BBC do it.

In reply to matt1984:

This is what I thought too, but can't find any reference to it this time round. It was great - 16 streams of all sorts of sports, always something interesting on

 WillRobertson 17 Jul 2021
In reply to matt1984:

From the article:
"The challenge we have is that this is the first Summer Olympics under our rights deal with Discovery/Eurosport where we are restricted to showing two live sports at any one time."

It sounds like they're not able to have multiple streams online/red button as they've had previously. A shame to hear! But hopefully Eurosport will be able to show some other live sport when BBC can't?

*Agreed with others though, a great article! I think Ed will be great, especially with Mike and Molly (...) providing insight.

In reply to WillRobertson:

I wonder why the BBC have ended up in a deal with commercial US broadcasters, when they are generally so prominent in their own right. Certainly a shame that they can't broadcast more on their own - especially since, AFAIK, Eurosport is not available for free here? So those without satellite tv will be limited to the two streams? 

In reply to UKC Articles:

Uerosport are covering the climbing, they have Jonny Bryan commentating. He is one of the guys who did IFSC commentary when the broadcast came from the UK company

 JLS 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

>”Jonny Bryan”

The shouty guy!

edit: For those that don’t remember…

Post edited at 14:01
In reply to JLS:

Methinks he might be better using that style of commentary for horseracing.

Post edited at 14:54
 JLS 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

If nothing else, he was enthusiastic. He wasn’t so bad really.

Hopefully Eurosport will provide full coverage, even if for some, through necessity, it is without sound…

Post edited at 15:37
 Andy Gamisou 18 Jul 2021
In reply to JLS:

> >”Jonny Bryan”

> edit: For those that don’t remember…

For the love of God, no!  

 Justin Reid 10:54 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Given that this is such a big deal for sport climbing, why have we two snowboarders on the commentating team? Seriously, it smacks that the BBC don't give a toss. It's awesome that Molly is part of the team and I see her input as being the most important and informative. 
The BBC should have employed Matt Groom, he's surpassed previous IFSC commentators by a country mile. While Mike Langley did a few and his input will be gratefully received, his style and engagement pails to Matts. TBH, I always thought the IFSC should approach Liam Lonsdale as his personality would excite even the most disinterested spectator. 
Comp Climbing commentating has come a long way in the last 10 years (cringes at the thought of Jonny Bryan), it's a shame we've been sold out.
OK, I should have read the article in full before reacting, it's a money thing. Still, a shame the commentating will be dumbed down and most likely carry inaccuracies given the lack of experience of the lead commentator and "man on the ground". Fingers crossed for the future.

Post edited at 11:18
 galpinos 13:15 Fri
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

> Uerosport are covering the climbing, they have Jonny Bryan commentating. He is one of the guys who did IFSC commentary when the broadcast came from the UK company

I thought he was contracted to the Olympic Broadcast Service? Or are Eurosport just streaming the OBS content?

 galpinos 13:19 Fri
In reply to Justin Reid:

I think it's good for the BBC and Matt that he's not doing these Olympics. As much as he appears very likeable and certainly enthusiastic, he's got a fair bit of polishing to do on his commentary technique.

I'm not Ed leigh's biggest fan either but from the BBC "stable" he seems the right person (the Clare Balding of "cool" sports) and with Mike and Molly (she was good in Chamonix) I think it should be good coverage.

 Fellover 13:42 Fri
In reply to Justin Reid:

I've not got anything against Matt Groom, he's obviously very enthusiastic and I think quite likeable, but I do find his commentary pretty unbearable and extremely 'unpolished'. Much prefer Mike Langley tbh, especially in the co-commentator role.

Does anyone know if there's going to be a free live broadcast of the climbing anywhere? Just wondering how I'm going to watch it when the BBC decides (probably correctly) that the majority of the public would rather watch the hockey.

 j_duds 15:55 Fri
In reply to Fellover:

Looks like we have 2 options: BBC or (pay for) eurosport. 

 Fellover 14:12 Sun
In reply to j_duds:

Thanks, think I'll probably end up buying a month of Eurosport, only £7.

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