September 17, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio
A little anniversary slipped through on Thursday and it barely got any attention. It was 21 years since Australia hosted the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
All those years ago, Scott Crebbin was working at the Main Press Centre with a whole bunch of media relations staff supporting the needs of the world media. And I was there too.
Those amazing Games put Sydney on the world stage and established our credentials as a nation capable of successfully organising major global events. And it was this experience that set Crebbin up for a distinguished career working at major events all around the world.
I interrupted his post-Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games hotel lockdown back home in Sydney to talk about his career as a media and operations talent at large, what next for him and why Australians have such a fine international reputation in major events.
Crebbin has been engaged to work at many global sporting events. The list is impressive.
He’s one of those super skillful behind-the-scenes media people who do all they can to help the media do their job. His specialises in communications and events.
In Tokyo, Crebbin was responsible for media operations at the designated media centre for the beach volleyball during the Olympics and the swimming media centre during the Paralympics.
They were mighty big responsibilities that not only involved taking care of the press conferences and day-to-day media issues but also managing the tricky rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the local organising committee and the official host broadcaster.
You have to know a lot of stuff and Crebbin has amassed loads of experience after working at four Olympics – Sydney, the Winter Games in Torino in 2006, Beijing, and Tokyo – as well other major global and national gigs.
Meet him and you’d say he’s rather understated. He’s not showy, he’s not a big talker but you know that behind his disarming warmth is one cool operator.
Making sure the media has what it needs to do its job well – whether that is reporting on the sport or whether it’s the behind-the-scenes colour and human interest stories.
For as we all learnt from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – if you don’t get your media services right, the host destination’s entire reputation is at risk.
Crebbin specialises in this sort of stuff. With four Olympic Games under his belt, the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups, World Expo, Dubai, Invictus Games Sydney 2018, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, Ashgabat 2017 Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games as well as a raft of Australian major events like ANZAC Day and the 75th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, there is no disputing he’s one of the world’s best.
I asked the very modest Crebbin what makes him and other Australians on the international events circuit so good and so in demand.
“We’re seen as a safe pair of hands and the IOC knows that,” he says.
“We can apply a level of detail that is high, can do the micro work as well as the high level of planning and strategy. We are cautious but also creative.”
He says that Australians also have an ability to work with people of different cultures – that’s a real strength and it may stem from being familiar with our own cultural diversity.
Crebbin was engaged in Tokyo by the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. In the past he has also been employed by the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. He worked for the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games – his events cred goes on and on.
His career all started with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Canberra and roles with Football Federation Australia and then Darling Harbour Authority. It’s a stellar career.
As he kills time in lockdown, the seasoned major events pro is charting his plans for the next chapter and he’s hoping that will be in Australia.
Crebbin says the Tokyo Games were extraordinary. He admits no one was confident that they’d go ahead in the midst of a global pandemic. But they did and while it was unusual to not have crowds at the events – the sporting achievements of the athletes at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games brought great joy to people all over the world.
He says it became clear while he was in Tokyo that for Australians in lockdown the Games provided a morale boost and lifted the spirits of the country at a time when things were very tough.
That’s something that makes him very happy. He made a big personal commitment, spending two weeks in hotel quarantine in Tokyo at the start of this project and he has one more week in quarantine in lockdown in Sydney before he can let his hair down. And what’s he looking forward to most? A walk in Centennial Park, he says.
Crebbin has big events in his blood. He’ll always seek these out. That’s what he’s good at.
And while the Olympic flame has been extinguished on Tokyo’s COVID Games, Crebbin is super excited that the Olympic flame will be returning to Australia for Brisbane in 2032.
And he hopes he can be part of these as well as the whole other cycle of major international events coming our way, including the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup.