One of those who bring the Games to the world
For many athletes, the ultimate prize is winning an Olympic gold medal. The broadcast producer Wang Haiwei cannot lay claim to one of those, but he can boast of having been on hand at a string of Olympics to see others do exactly that.
Wang works for the Olympic Broadcasting Services, which was created by the International Olympic Committee in 2001 to serve as the host broadcaster organization for all summer and winter Games and the Youth Olympic Games.
Wang’s first Olympics were the winter Games in Turin in 2006, and the Rio Olympics this year will be his sixth.
His golden rule for the Games, and any other sports broadcasting for that matter, is “unbiased coverage”, an ideal he hopes all professional broadcasters adhere to.
“For example, when China played Germany in table tennis in Beijing, Chinese fans greatly outnumbered their German counterparts,” said Wang, the production coordinating producer with OBS. “Even if the Germans were few and far between in the crowd, our job was to be balanced.
“Everyone has a home country, and his or her favorite player or team, but when it comes to broadcasting, you have to leave your biases at the door because fans of both competitors or teams are in front of the TV far away cheering on their side.”
Wang, 41, has loved sports for much of his life, and he was the soccer team captain in college. He still plays in the local soccer league in Madrid, where the OBS headquarters is located, he said.
Almost all the OBS staff are passionate about sport, but one quality they all have in common is a professionalism that ensures the quality of their work, Wang said.
OBS has about 160 full-time staff, far from enough to broadcast the world’s largest sporting extravaganza. They bring together about 6,000 experienced television production professionals during the summer Games and about 4,000 for the winter Games from different countries, with their expertise in particular sports.
Very specific instructions about visuals and coordinating sound are crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page in such a big project, he said.
“As the production coordinating producer, I have to ensure that not only the light on the arena is right, but the light at the entrances, the warm-up zone, the backstage and elsewhere as well. We also have to ensure that the medals presentation rostrum and the national flags are in the right place. The location of cameras must be accurate to within one centimeter.”
He has been to Rio about 10 times in the past three years as OBS has prepared coverage, he said.
Wang started his career as a TV sports reporter in 1997 and joined the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co, which OBS and the Beijing Organizing Committee jointly set up in 2005, for the 2008 Olympics.
Before the Beijing Games, he was offered a job with OBS in Madrid once the 2008 Games were over, and he was one of OBS’ first two Chinese employees.
“The most challenging but also interesting part of the job is to work with people in different host countries. The national character, the culture and management style varies greatly. The Brazilians are quite different from the Russians (The 2014 winter Games were held in Sochi, Russia). You need to adapt to the multicultural environment, and I very much enjoy that.”
Wang sees in his life inklings of his Olympic destiny. He was born in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, the city that will cohost the 2022 Winter Olympics with Beijing, and grew up in Beijing and Nanjing, Jiangsu province, host city of the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in 2014.
When he was 14, his family moved back to their hometown, Shanghai, and he lived there for 16 years.
“Just look at the Chinese cities I have lived in and you will see that my life is tied up with the Olympics. I hope Shanghai will host the Games one day. My Olympic story will then be complete.”
Wang Haiwei, broadcast producer of OBS