At the time of writing Channel 4 is showing the Paralympics Opening Ceremony from Tokyo, it’s just the start of the broadcaster’s commitment to covering the global sporting event.
Over 1,300 hours will be dedicated to the games equalling 17.5 hours per day which includes special editions of The Last Leg.
Channel 4 has televised almost three times more hours of the Paralympics than the BBC achieved since signing their contract in 2010.
Pete Andrews, head of Channel 4 sport, told The Guardian: “Every sport that is available live will be shown live.
“This is the biggest Paralympics we have ever done. It is a huge part of the channel’s identity and a massive schedule commitment. Until the sport stops, we will keep broadcasting.”
At least 70 per cent of the TV presenters, including Ade Adepitan and JJ Chalmers, covering the games for Channel 4 are registered disabled.
Each night during the Paralympics Adam Hill, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe will present a new series of The Last Leg and there will be a special themed episode of Come Dine With Me.
“We have been making programmes with broad appeal to bring the Paralympians to a wider audience,” says Andrews.
“We are being ambitious. Alongside coverage of the Games, we are trying to make programmes that hook people into stories and bring more of the mainstream into the Paralympics.”
The pandemic has meant Channel 4 has been forced to cut back the number of staff abroad, the broadcaster sent 80 members to Tokyo in comparison to 300 in Rio.
Adepitan is one of the presenters who made it to Tokyo where he will present the daily Tokyo Today show with a fully camera-equipped Japanese taxi as his mobile base.
“We are doing as much in Tokyo as we can as we don’t want to lose a sense of the city, the sense of occasion,” said Andrews.
“This is a cheeky way around the rules, so we can get to where we want without breaking them. No one is going who doesn’t want to go. Safety comes first over TV coverage. In a safe way, we want to deliver the best Paralympics coverage we can.”
There will also be coverage and shows coming from Channel 4’s national headquarters in Leeds with live audiences.
“We are inviting an audience of friends and family to enjoy the Games with us,” Andrews said. “It will be as many as we can, but it won’t be large. It has a Covid caveat, depending on the Covid rules at the time; it is really hard to give a number.”
Channel 4 already has the rights to cover Paris 2024, but despite the TV home of the Paralympics being uncertain after France Andrews is adamant his channel will continue broadcasting the event.
“Absolutely, definitely,” he said. “That is what we are all about. We are kind of the lead Paralympic broadcaster [globally]. Without a crystal ball, you never know. But I certainly hope so.”
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