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August 22, 2012 by Speakers' Spotlight

Brian Williams Knows London Games Might Well Have Been His Last

If it looked like Brian Williams, CTV’s anchor for the 2012 London Olympics, was emotional as he signed off on August 12 there was a good reason why. Williams, 66, knows that the London Games could mean 14 Olympics and done. CTV is out of the Olympics game after CBC regained the contract to telecast the Games in 2014 from Sochi and 2016 from Rio de Janeiro

“If it was the last Olympics I cover, I’m very proud of all 14 Olympics I’ve done,” Williams told Usual Suspects as he prepared to resume his CFL work for TSN. “I won’t kid you, it was very emotional as I signed off for our final show from London. Hey, they’re always hard to get through, you form a new family whenever you work that hard with so many good people. But yes, the thought occurred to me that this might be it.

“The Olympics are special to me and billions of people around the world. They draw as many non-sports fans as sports fans. It’s not like hockey or football most of the time where you have to be a sports fan to watch. It’s the biggest regularly scheduled peaceful event in the world.”

After decades as the face of CBC’s Olympic coverage, Williams jumped to CTV when it won the Canadian rights to broadcast the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and the London 2012 Summer Games. With CBC regaining the upcoming rights, it appears he’s the odd-man out for the principal anchor chair, at least. CBC has talked about subletting some of its Olympic rights. If TSN/CTV obtained them, Williams could find his way back onto Olympic telecasts, just not as the main host.

Williams insists that he’s not looking to jump back to CBC to keep his Olympic hosting streak intact. “I’m here (at CTV/ TSN),” he says. “This is where I belong now. I’ll just go back to doing my CFL work and get ready for the Grey Cup game this year in Toronto.”

How does he sum up London? “London was the perfect city to follow Vancouver. There was a lot of whining in Britain before the Games started about the cost, the security and the bother of the Games going back to when Vancouver hosted. But I always said, just let the home team do well and everything will be alright. Sure enough, when the British started winning golds, the British press were the biggest cheerleaders for the Games.”

His favourite moment was when Princes William and Harry dropped by and called him “Brian. They don’t usually do that.” Off-camera Williams asked the young princes how they felt watching the video of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, purportedly parachuting from a helicopter. “Harry joked that he was flying the chopper and William pushed his grandmother out the door. They were really special.”

By Bruce Dowbiggin/The Globe and Mail/August 22, 2012