When the Mail Online claimed that Helen Skelton had been axed from the BBC Commonwealth Games coverage over her ‘revealing outfits’, she and Sonja McLaughlan knew exactly how to respond…
In 2016, Helen Skelton presented the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – and was widely praised for her expert coverage, not to mention her wonderful rapport with co-presenters Rebecca Adlington and Mark Foster.
At the time, Skelton had to endure working conditions of a sweltering 22 degrees – and, much like her male co-presenter –often donned a pair of shorts when it came to filming. Which meant that, boringly, her ensemble sparked complaints from a very small handful of misogynist idiots on social media.
The majority of the world, though, were able to handle the sight of a woman wearing shorts, and either defended Skelton from this blatant sexism, or refused to give it any coverage. Which means that nowadays, some two years later, the so-called ‘scandal’ has been pretty much entirely forgotten…
Or so we had assumed.
On International Women’s Day (8 March), the Mail Online used the age-old Rio de Janeiro tweets as a means of padding out a story about the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month.
Attempting to draw a link between Skelton’s “revealing outfits” and the fact she would not be presenting the corporation’s swimming coverage this year, they suggested that she had been dropped as a result.
It wasn’t long before BBC sports presenter Sonja McLaughlan had spotted the article – and she immediately made a point of exposing its false claims on Twitter.
“Dreadful hatchet job on @HelenSkelton,” she wrote, sharing a link to the story.
McLaughlan continued: “The BBC is taking a small team to the Commonwealth Games to save money. It means I’ve been ‘axed’ as well as I’m not going for first time since 2002.
“Helen is an excellent broadcaster and undeserving of such treatment.”
McLaughlan added: “The sad thing about the @HelenSkelton piece in the Daily Mail is that it’s written by a woman.
“Being part of #bbcwomen has taught me value of a sisterhood where so much can be achieved by standing together.
“Proud today to stand alongside #bbcwomen on #InternationalWomenDay.”
Skelton, meanwhile, has underlined how truly ridiculous the story was by sharing a Wonder Woman meme into her feed.
“My boss told me, ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have,’” it read.
“Now I’m sitting in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Wonder Woman.”
Somewhat ironically, though, the Mail Online has since used Skelton’s tweet as a means of corroborating their claims and proudly stuck it into their story. Because they still just don’t get it.
The BBC, meanwhile, has confirmed that Skelton has absolutely not been “struck off”, adding that her absence is down to a “smaller production” than the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
They added that Gary Lineker and Dan Walker will also not be involved.
“We are sending a considerably smaller operation to Australia than to previous games,” said a spokesperson for BBC Sport.
“Helen remains a key presenter.”
Images: Rex Features