Over the years the CrossFit Games has been a global phenomenon with the event literally spanning the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered those plans somewhat but those involved in the production are committed to making sure the event goes off safely and also can serve as an inspiration.
“CrossFit athletes are not the kind of people who quit because something is hard,” says Justin Bergh, CrossFit Games, general manager. “We finish something, get to the other side, and are better for it. We feel a real sense of duty to produce an event that is first class and can be a beacon of hope for our community while also being a celebration in the midst of a very difficult year.”
Bergh says the production has been right sized to make sure it is as safe as possible. There are no spectators and divisions like age groups and team competitions have been eliminated and there are only five men and five women competing versus 30.
“With only five men and five women competing we can be more robust in the storytelling,” says Bergh. “It’s the most credible and validating program we have ever done.”
The CrossFit Games has multiple stages and the first one, an open competition, was held in March.
“We began with an open level of competition months ago and then we had a level of competition where we had to send judges into homes, garages, and local gyms to score seven events,” he explains. “The top five men and women were then invited to Northern California for the Finals.”
More than 400 videos from athletes were submitted during the sanctionals that determined the final five men and women. Those videos were edited into two days of episodes that were released as if they were live competitions so that fans and competitors could follow a leaderboard.
The finals are taking place in multiple locations in California, including Morgan Hill, a nearby aquatics center, and the CrossFit Ranch in Aromas which is the birthplace of the CrossFit Games. The games are available live today, tomorrow and Sunday on Pluto TV, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch and then CBS will air it on Saturday from 1 to 3 pm EST.
“We have more fields of play than ever to allow for more space to keep safe,” adds Bergh. “We want to minimize the amount of hands on every piece of equipment, so we have six different floors in use and also fewer cameras that are moving around. They follow a very detailed plan from venue to venue.”
CP Communications is on hand once again for the production (it was also at the center of the event last year when it was held in Madison, WI) with its primary production facility located at Morgan Hill.
“CP is using bonded cellular and then the dynamic camera plan gives us different looks,” says Bergh. “We have a lot of handheld cameras on the field of play and then other cameras elevated off the field that move around two or three times a day.”
Bergh says the event is not being held in a pure bubble and that a very good control system is in place with respect to testing. Prior to travelling everyone involved had to test negative for COVID-19 and then a PCR test was done once they arrived at the event. Once cleared they could step inside the campus and get to work.
“We are also doing rapid testing on a daily basis and then more screenings, washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing,” adds Bergh.
Bergh says the event this weekend is more important than ever and is raising the bar for future productions.
“Everyone really respects the moment and is putting on a performance to rally the global community,” he says. “With storytelling we can link this back to the real world as all the athletes had to adjust the way they train. And to see the figure heads of CrossFit here serving as an example is really impressive.”