Akram Khan upset over NBC Olympic ceremony snub


Choreographer Akram Khan has said he is upset his Olympic opening ceremony tribute to victims of the 7 July London bombings was not aired in the US.

Khan said he felt "disheartened and disappointed" NBC cut the segment which featured him and 50 dancers perform to Abide With Me, sung by Emeli Sande.

Instead, NBC aired an interview with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

NBC said it had had no indication the segment was a reference to the attacks.

"I am really sad that I couldn't show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don't think it's any less or more than any of the other pieces," Khan told the Associated Press.

"Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough?

"It brings to mind the question - but maybe I'm wrong because I don't really know the reason - but it brings to mind a question that maybe it's too truthful, and I think that says it all really," he said.

Khan said he was asked by artistic director Danny Boyle to design a section of the opening ceremony around the theme of mortality.

Along with images of loved ones lost by those in the stadium, the segment was widely interpreted as a tribute to the 52 victims of the bombings in 2005.

However, NBC maintained the performance was never presented to them as such.

The ceremony's programme described the performance as dramatising "the struggle between life and death using such powerful images of mortality as dust and the setting sun".

NBC - which holds the exclusive rights to air the Games in the US - broadcast the ceremony on a time-delayed basis so it could be shown during primetime and made editing changes.

The network has also received criticism for not providing a live stream of the event.

NBC said there were often such production decisions when showing a taped version of a ceremony.

"We are live streaming every sporting event, all 32 sports and all 302 medals … The opening and closing ceremonies, however, are entertainment spectacles," the network said in a statement.

"Our award-winning production team will present them on a medium that best demonstrates their grandeur and majesty, and at a time when friends and family are able to gather together to watch, which is in primetime."

A record-setting 40.7m people in the US watched NBC's first night of summer Olympics coverage.

It topped the previous mark of 39.8m who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympics begin, and the 34.9m who watched the first night from Beijing four years ago.

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