Now I'm all for innovation when it comes to sports broadcast coverage – getting us closer to the action; bringing us the view from the athlete’s perspective; giving us a better appreciation of the speed and precision involved in the sport. However, innovation must always be balanced against the rights of athletes, and of course, common decency.
The producers of the World Athletics Championships in Doha must have overlooked this principle when seeking to introduce their new "BlockCam". The camera - integrated into athletes' starting blocks to look upwards at the sprinter about to launch into action - caused female athletes to (rightly) complain about the camera angle capturing shots focused on their ‘intimate’ areas; something they described as "creepy" and "pretty stupid". Thankfully, following the protest of several athletes to the IAAF, common sense has prevailed and the Block Cam's camera angles have been restricted to alleviate such concerns.
From a legal point of view, the right to film an athlete's performances is often neatly tied up in the athlete participation agreement and/or the event rules and regulations that all participants agree to. However, when looking at new methods of filming or the use of innovative angles, it's important to think about the legal, sporting and practical implications. For example, it's wise to consider the consequences and potential liability of a drone cam or spider cam crashing, the sporting disadvantage (and athlete complaints) that might come from mounting a camera on a race car/motorbike/ bicycle/canoe (etc) due to additional weight or impact on aerodynamics, and privacy and data issues will be very relevant where cameras are used in 'private' areas such dressing rooms or while medical treatment is being administered. And although there isn't any suggestion that the "Block Cam" was facilitating any criminal activity, with "up skirting" now a criminal offence in the UK, even criminal law could be relevant if camera angles result in the production of indecent images.
So - sorry to all broadcasters out there, but we'd recommend consulting the legal team before you get too innovative with the next camera angle!
Speaking about the incident, Luckenkemper said she felt 'really not comfortable' standing over the cameras while only wearing a pair of running shorts.