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Exarchos of Olympic Broadcasting Services on Not Sexualizing Female Athletes

July 27, 2021

TOKYO – Yiannis Exarchos, the Athens-born chief executive of Olympic Broadcasting Services spoke to the media on July 26 about the “concerted effort to ban sexualized images of female athletes, abiding by the mantra ‘sport appeal, not sex appeal’” at the Tokyo Olympics, the New York Post reported.

“You will not see in our coverage some things that we have been seeing in the past, with details and close-ups on parts of the body,” Exarchos said, the Post reported, adding that “what we can do is to make sure that our coverage does not highlight or feature in any particular way what people are wearing.”

“Before the Tokyo Games began, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released an updated version of the ‘Portrayal Guidelines’ to help orchestrate ‘gender-equal and fair’ broadcasts ahead of this year’s competition,” the Post reported, noting that “the guidelines recommend that broadcasts ‘do not focus unnecessarily on looks, clothing or intimate body parts’ and ‘respect the integrity of the athlete.’”

“We in media have not yet done all that we can do,” Exarchos said, adding that “this is something that we need to be frank and open [about] among ourselves,” the Post reported.

Naoko Imoto, the adviser on gender equality to the Tokyo Olympics, “was critical of the media’s handling of sexualization of women on Monday,” the Post reported.

“It’s really biased when it comes to gender,” Imoto said, the Post reported, noting that “many of the channels look at female athletes [as] girls or wives or mothers and not really as pure athletes. Most of it also really gives attention to the look saying… they are beautiful or sexy. They are powerful and they are also beautiful, but they are not just women. They are athletes.”

Exarchos was born in Athens in 1964. He produced and presented cultural and art programs on Greek TV and Radio and held several management and senior executive positions in a number of broadcast organizations, including the position of Executive Director of the Greek National Broadcaster, ERT. He has lectured at numerous conferences and collaborated with several public and private organizations such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Specializing in the management and coverage of global sporting events, he has served as a top executive for all Olympic Host Broadcasting organizations since Athens 2004. His background in radio, television, music and film brings a comprehensive perspective to the planning and management of the broadcast of major events.

Exarchos was named CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the permanent Host Broadcast organization created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), following the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In 2015 he was also named Executive Director of Olympic Channel Services (OCS), the corporate entity charged with creating and operating the IOC’s Olympic Channel.

His in-depth media experience and leadership have earned him numerous recognitions, including five Emmy Awards, an award from the Greek National Olympic Committee for his long-term contribution to the Olympic Movement and the Great Wall Friendship Award, in acknowledgment of his contribution to Beijing’s progress and development. He is also a regular speaker at international conferences on broadcast and new media.

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