On Monday, it was announced that Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Ian Thorpe will be joining the Seven Network as a commentator for the 2021 Tokyo Games. As reported by TV Blackbox, a Seven Network spokesperson leaked the news to News Corp publications, which is how the story broke.
Owned by Seven West Media, Seven Network is one of Australia’s most prominent commercial free-to-air television networks. The network hosts several notable television programs in addition to the Olympics, including Big Brother Australia, The Voice Australia, Australia’s Got Talent, and Home and Away.
Initially, Thorpe was set to work with Seven’s commentary team for the 2020 Games. However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of the Games, it was unclear whether Thorpe would extend his commitment to the 2021 Games coverage or not. At Seven’s launch event last month, Thorpe’s name was missing from the line-up. According to TV Blackbox, contract negotiations with Thorpe were still in progress.
Prior to Thorpe’s arrival to the team, news media personalities Basil Zempalis and Nathan Tempelton had already committed to their commentary roles for the 2021 Games, as well as Olympic gold medalist and television personality Giaan Rooney. Together, Zempalis, Templeton, Rooney, and Thorpe will cover the portion of the Games for the Seven Network.
At the 2012 Olympics, Thorpe covered the Olympics with BBC alongside ex-Tottenham Spurs football player Gary Lineker. He reportedly charged the cooperation $10,000 a day for his work. His appearance surprised British viewers, but earned Thorpe’s television personality a larger following. Thorpe was a hit with viewers, who enjoyed Thorpe’s “insightful, amicable, and knowledgeable” commentary.
Back in the early 2000s, Thorpe piloted his own reality TV show called Undercover Angels. The show was aired by Channel Seven of the Seven Network, but never renewed. Thorpe also appeared in a few major TV series, including the classic US sitcom Friends and the Australian-based Home and Away. However, his TV career failed to take off in a major way.
Recently, Amazon announced the June 4 launch of their four part docu series titled Head Over Water that will follow four elite Australian swimmers, including Thorpe, Bronte Campbell, Kyle Chambers, and Cody Simpson.