It is with the heaviest of hearts that Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) received the news that Manolo Romero, giant of sports broadcasting and founder of OBS, has passed away. Manolo was more than just a leader in the industry, he revolutionised the way large sporting events are delivered to the world and created the model upon which all future host broadcast organisations would be built. Every person, in every corner of the globe, who has tuned in to watch their heroes compete on the world’s largest stage has, in some respect, Manolo to thank for it.
“Manolo Romero has left an indelible mark on the broadcast of the Olympic Games,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“As the founder of Olympic Broadcasting Services, the host broadcaster for the Games, Manolo was a legend and pioneer in the sports broadcasting industry and respected worldwide for his vision, technological expertise and overall passion for the Olympic Movement. His legacy on the broadcast coverage of the Games will endure not only in the state-of-the-art techniques and broadcast innovations he introduced, but also with the thousands of broadcast professionals whom he mentored and influenced over his more than 50 years in the industry,” IOC President Bach added.
Manolo was from Sevilla, Spain, and got his start at the Spanish broadcaster TVE in 1965. It was there that he began his long and distinguished career working with broadcasters from all over the world. In those early years he was able to learn and incorporate the diverse ways that broadcasters were using technology around the world to create a comprehensive understanding of the industry and where it could go. Manolo’s first Olympics were Mexico City 1968, and while there were countless other Games and events in between, it was Los Angeles 1984 where he had the full oversight of the host broadcast operation, a role he would embody again for Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and then for all Games from Sydney 2000 until he completed his Olympic career following London 2012.
Always at the forefront of technology, Manolo was renowned for his high standards and constant drive to achieve more with each Games. He felt that coverage of the Olympics should push boundaries and set the standard for all other sports coverage. It was due to Manolo’s vision toward the future that so many broadcasters from around the world were able to see what technology could do and experience the next generation of the industry’s tools, sometimes many years before they may have been able to do so in their own countries.
It was inevitable that Manolo would one day be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which came to pass just weeks ago. There was no one more deserving of this honour and upon being inducted Manolo commented, “All of the Olympics have had something special, but the thing I am most proud of is seeing how OBS is today and how it’s still moving forward and is innovative. I am very proud of that.”
Manolo’s legacy will live on through the hundreds of broadcast professionals he worked with and inspired, along with the advances in technology that he introduced throughout his career. His influence on the Olympics and the sports broadcasting industry at large cannot be overstated.
Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, shared, “His mentorship and leadership were instrumental in my life and his wisdom and work ethic transcended our work together. The legacy of his guidance still resonates with me every single day of my professional life. Words can’t begin to express how much I will miss him.”
“There was no greater champion of the Olympic Movement, nor anyone whose impact was greater on the world being able to come together and unite through the power of sport.???????” – Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services
The following is a collection of thoughts and memories from colleagues and those who knew him well.
“It is with immense sadness that I have learned of the passing of not only an extraordinarily talented person, but of our dear friend Manolo Romero.
A pioneer and iconic figure within the broadcast industry, where his vast experience and career spanned several decades, Manolo’s vision and remarkable leadership helped in getting us where we are today.
I still remember conversations and anecdotes that we shared about the World Cup held in Argentina back in 1978 where he also very fondly remembered meeting Leandro’s father.
We have sadly lost a legend, and on behalf of myself and the Olympic Movement, we want to express our deepest condolences to his family and we will always appreciate enormously the legacy he has left behind.
Manolo, rest in peace, amigo.”
IOC Member, Chairman of OBS
Ha sido tan repentino que tardaremos todos en darnos cuenta del gran espacio que siempre has ocupado para tanta gente, dentro y fuera del mundo olímpico.…
Los que hemos tenido el privilegio de conocerte, personal o profesionalmente, hemos aprendido mucho, tanto de tu ingenio para crear nuevas maneras de trabajar y producir grandes y complejos eventos, como de tu capacidad y voluntad para educar a generaciones de profesionales que, a día de hoy, siguen siendo los mejores en lo suyo.
Tus Ursulas, mujer e hija, te compartieron generosamente con todo el Movimiento Olímpico e incluso han seguido tus pasos con mucho éxito. Suyo es seguir con tu legado.
Ahora nos toca seguir adelante, siempre teniendo presente lo que aprendimos de ti. El mejor reconocimiento que te podemos hacer en este momento de despedirnos es trabajar duro y honrar tu memoria.
Te echamos ya de menos, querido Manolo. Que sensación de vacío tan grande!”
Juan Antonio Samaranch
IOC Vice President, OBS Board Member, Chairman of OCS SL
“Manolo was a true trailblazer who set a global standard for sports broadcasting matched only by the importance of the event he documented for close to thirty years. In addition to his uncanny ability to organize and deliver the incredibly complex Olympic host broadcast, he was an extraordinary partner and friend to NBC and the rights holding broadcasters. His influence on sports broadcasting continued to be felt after his retirement and will endure for decades to come. We are all grateful beneficiaries of his prodigious talents and of his friendship.”
President, NBC Olympics and Business, NBC Sports Group
“I’ve been personally in contact with Manolo since I started to work in TVE, in 1967. In our long professional life, we were working together in the sport broadcasting area since the Olympic Games Montreal 1976. He was working then as the EBU´s Head Engineer and I as Deputy Head of EBU´s VTR. For many years, we were working in this exciting world. We were not working for the EBU all the time, as in some occasions when he was part of the Organizing Committee as in Los Angeles 1984 and I was part of TVE´s the Sport Department. However, in 1996 I joined –full time- the EBU´s Sports Operations Group headed already by Manolo. In 1999 he left the EBU and I took over the EBU Sports Operations Group. From that moment onward we were working in sport events until I retired in 2009 and even later I joined him as a free-lancer in other sports events that he was also managing.
In all these years we were not, in all the occasions, in agreement, as our professional points of view were sometimes different, but these differences never marred our personal relations.
Manolo was a genius and the spearhead in organizing and making possible the most difficult tasks in the covering of big sporting events. He created great teams that were able to bring the sports TV´s coverage to state of the art pieces. He was also the broadcaster who, from Barcelona 1992 onward, brought TV sports production to the quality and grandeur that nowadays is considered “normal.” Only few people know how many years of effort, professional skills, leadership and hard, hard work, have gone into implementing it. Manolo was the number ONE. I personally think that with his loss, an era of great broadcasters is gone. Descanse en paz.”
Long-time EBU Team Leader
???”Manolo accompanied me during almost all my professional life, since 1978. He was my mentor, my idol, I learned so much from him – complexity and flexibility, deep knowledge in all fields of broadcasting, integration of teams from all over the world, different nationalities, languages, cultures and religions to fulfill ONE common goal – excellent and innovative broadcasting!!!!! His work and personality will not be forgotten. With my IOC Golden Rings and SVG Europe awards I am giving something back to him and many people will follow his legacy in the future.”
Long-time Team Leader of ARD/ZDF
“Manolo was not only the real pioneer and the great innovator behind the development of Olympic broadcasting coverage but also a great friend and enabler to rights holding broadcasters such as the BBC. He always shared our ambitions and was tireless in working with us to deliver great programmes for our audiences. His collaborative and inspirational approach encouraged us to use the latest technologies and OBS under his leadership became a powerhouse to meet all our needs and ensured we were in safe hands.
All of us at BBC Sport, and myself in particular as team leader, will never forget his friendship, help and support as our plans for the 2012 Olympics took shape from the moment London was awarded the Games in 2005 through to the Closing Ceremony in 2012. He worked alongside us, helping us to overcome any problems or issues. As a result, we were able to achieve a level and standard of Olympic sports programming in the UK that had not been seen before. He deserves a significant portion of the many plaudits the BBC received.
We owe Manolo a huge debt of gratitude as does the world of sports broadcasting. Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and all those at OBS and Olympic rights holders around the world who have been privileged to share his outstanding and exceptional legacy.”
Head of Major Events BBC Sport 2001-2013 / Editor, Olympic Programming 1992 – 2012
“Manolo Romero created the first specialized and permanent organization of host broadcaster. For this he invented the processes, the methods, the techniques, the vocabulary… Who have become for most broadcasters and host broadcasters a framework, or a standard, or a reference … All host broadcasters owe something to Manolo.”
???????10 years Team leader of EBU / FTV
“Manolo was to me the main man from first EBU and then of course OBS. A man you have to respect for many reasons. First of all, how much knowledge can a human being absorb in his brain? Manolo beat us all with his technical wisdom. How did he ever manage to be constantly updated with so much technical information available?
The constant eager to be better the next day made him be curious 24/7. Manolo had so many jobs and it looked like he always kept his interest from the last job while fulfilling the next position.
Although he was strict in many ways, he always respected another opinion if it was honest and thought through.
I have always seen him as building something, setting up teams and implementing new stuff. He is leaving this TV world as a unique personality and his achievements are endless.”
Executive Producer NOS Sports Dept.
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Manolo Romero. More than a force in the international sports broadcasting industry, he changed the broadcasting landscape and in turn, the Olympics, as well. He fostered cooperation among broadcasters and today, we all benefit from his work and his friendship. His strong, calm and confident presence was one that impressed anyone who met him, and he will be missed. Our condolences and thoughts are with his friends and family, today.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
“How many people have the honor of being able to work along side a worldwide legend? I was a lucky and fortunate person. Manolo was my professional Father and the impact that he had on me is greater than words can describe. There will never be another person who brought so much passion and excellence to his mission than Manolo. His recent induction into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame allowed us to reflect upon his greatness and to realize that we were even luckier to have worked by his side.”
Former GM of the Olympic Channel and OBS/ISB Executive
“As a former MRH, I have known and worked with Manolo since Athens 2004. From our first encounter, he made me realize that it was all about focusing on goals and how to achieve them. Period. Your gender or age did not matter nor what others did or said about you. He would spare time to discuss and listen as long as you had the facts straight. (Remembering when a dead rat was discovered one morning in JC’s studios before Beijing 2008—I took a photo and sent an email to explain the issue. Manolo came up to me after the daily briefing and whispered in my ear “Tomoyo, that was a mouse, not a rat.”) I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from his professionalism and dedication to Olympic Broadcasting. Rest in peace Manolo, you will be sorely missed.”
Former Team Leader of Japan Consortium and current Senior Manager of Broadcaster Services at OBS