Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Japanese Olympics coverage sucks


I am not a big fan of the Olympics, and it's probably because I've lived in Japan for the last several Olympiads. It's said the Games bring out the best in people; this may be true for the athletes but it's certainly not true for fans or broadcasters, who become extremely and annoyingly nationalistic. For a country like Japan that is already far too self-centered, the coverage on NHK becomes downright nauseating.

The worst case happened today, Wednesday morning. I had watched the women's snowboard cross qualifications and was looking forward to the medal races, which are quite exciting with 4 racers hurtling down the slope at the same time. Scheduled to start around 7:30 a.m. here, the race was nowhere to be seen. NHK's main channel was showing the morning news while the Japan-US women's curling match was show on the cable channel. Even with a Japanese boarder in the final sixteen, the event was completely ignored. To make matters worse, Canada won the gold but I've still yet to see any coverage of the event on any of the stations here. Nice job NHK.

I understand that viewers want to see their nation's athletes, but here that's all we see. Medal events that don't involve a Japanese athlete are simply skipped while we see replay after replay of Japanese athletes finishing somewhere below 3rd place. When a Japanese actually wins a medal, we are then treated to endless interviews of this previously unknown commodity, who is suddenly a national hero.

To be fair, all countries extol their medal winners (after ignoring them for the past 4 years), but in Japan it just goes too far. Despite live hockey on right now, NHK's cable channel is replaying the men's 500m speed skating, where Japan picked up a silver and bronze medal. Yesterday. Unbelievable. Perhaps I shouldn't blame the broadcaster, who must appeal to the simple-minded Japanese who would rather yet again see a 2nd and 3rd place finish than watch some live sports with the best athletes in the world.

I believe that as the rights holder, NHK should show as much live competition as possible. With 3 available channels, every medal event should be covered live regardless of the participation of this country's athletes. The Olympics is supposed to be about a sports competition that brings the world together in mutual understanding, but here, it's just an opportunity for the population to remain convinced that Japan is the only nation that matters.

On-line Olympics

After all that complaining, a compliment to the Olympics internet site at www.vancouver2010.com - great live updates with detailed stats that cannot be found on television. An excellent companion when you are fuming about the crap coverage you are forced to watch in a foreign country.

Best,

Sean

1 comment:

  1. You crack me up. I WAS going to complain about the coverage in the US but I'm not anymore. In the last few days I've been able to watch two Canadian woman's hockey games and the Canadian men's game this evening. And right now, there's a woman's Finland vs. China hockey game.

    I'm glad the hockey games have started. Though most of the other sports are interesting I do enjoy watching the hockey.

    Glad you found that link. Be well. Meg

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