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International Sports Broadcasting Brings 2023 World Para Athletics and Swimming Championships to the World Stage In Run Up to Paris 2024

01/08/2023

International Sports Broadcasting brings 2023 World Para Athletics and Swimming Championships to the world stage in run up to Paris 2024 By Heather McLean

Thursday, July 27, 2023 - 09:00

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International Sports Broadcasting (ISB) was the host broadcaster on behalf of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships, which took place from 8 to 17 July in Paris Florent Pervill

Madrid-based International Sports Broadcasting (ISB) was the host broadcaster on behalf of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships, which took place from 8 to 17 July in Paris. This is set to be swiftly followed by the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester which will begin with a splash on 31 July, running to 6 August, with ISB at the helm once again.

For the athletes, the Athletics and Swimming Championships represent a final hurdle to the Paralympics in Paris next year. ISB produced around eight hours of live coverage per day over the course of the World Para Athletics Championships, with ENG teams also producing additional content for the IPC's use. There was also a daily 26 minute highlights show.

A similar output is expected for the upcoming Para Swimming World Championships, both of which have and will be produced in the same ethos from ISB; to showcase the events, tell the stories of the athletes, and increase viewership of the vast array of para sports.

Greg Breakell, director at ISB, notes that in his role he finds it important to not focus the cameras on the disabilities of the competitors, but on the way they are overcoming challenges on the track or pool in order to engage viewers at home and enable them to relate to what they are seeing on screen Florent Pervill

Complex directing process

Para sport lends itself to a far more complex process for directors, according to Greg Breakell, director at ISB and for both these two events. On growing the viewership for para sports, Breakell says: We've all spent a great deal of time in our careers working various para and disabled events and they're special in themselves, but with the IPC, we've had discussions many times on many evenings, at many events, about how do we reach the world and let everybody see how special these athletes are and the stories that each individual has? And it's always been a challenge.

The goal has always been how do we bring the world's eyeballs outside of the families and friends of these athletes, to be able to watch these compelling competitions and stories, but also identify with the athletes? One point is, they don't want to be special. They're humans, like any of the rest of us, but that happen to have a disability, whatever that may be. So it's a real challenge in telling the story and getting that message across.

So it's not just pictures, it's not just sound, it's not just compassion telling the stories, all the things we normally try to do, but it's being very aware of the type of humans, individuals that we're dealing with

He notes that as a director, he finds it important to not focus the cameras on the disabilities of the competitors, but on the way they are overcoming challenges on the track or pool in order to engage viewers at home and enable them to relate to what they are seeing on screen.

Breakell explains: In the back of my mind when I'm cutting pictures, I'm trying to make sure that the viewer is not uncomfortable with what they're seeing. It's no different than the philosophy in able-bodied sports when there's an injury, how tight do you get? How much blood do you need to see? There's that same uncomfortable level to it. For my job as a director, it's not only about covering the competition, but to tell the stories.

The ISB crew for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships, which took place from 8 to 17 July in Paris

Getting the right angles

Breakell says this telling of stories in a para competition means he has to consider the equipment being used to capture the images more closely than for an able-bodied event. He says: When it comes to equipment, even, what angles do we shoot this at? Our Agito buggy is low because we want to look into [the athletes'] faces. We all know the emotion is on the face, so we don't want to be shooting everything from up high. So the buggy is low, our steadicams, the equipment is rigged to the low position. Most steadicam operators you'll see in able-bodied sports, the lens is somewhere [up high]. We rig our lens down low so that we are looking into the eyes [of athletes in wheelchairs and the like]. It's about respect for these people. We're not looking down on them. We want to be on the same level. The philosophy of television is the same you want to look into your eyes, we don't want to look on top of your head so that doesn't change, but it does challenge us in some ways.

He continues: There's no question that not only are you meeting the broadcast expectations of normal sports coverage, but there's much more to be taken into consideration. You really need to be aware, with even things as simple as your camera operators being aware of prosthetics on the field of play; a steadicam operator normally, in able-bodied sports, pretty much moves within the guidelines of whatever you've discussed with the league or the committee or whatever. They know not only are they free to move, but the athlete will step out of the way if necessary. That's not always the case in para sports.

And then you have to take into consideration on top of that all the different classifications, continues Breakell, on the overall complexities of working on a para production. Some of the classifications for the hearing im
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