Rooting for underdogs!
NBC Sports this week made the not-too-surprising announcement that much of its Beijing Olympics team would be covering next month’s Winter Games from afar, in Stamford, CT, as the Covid pande…
But the international outcry over human rights abuses in China, leading to a U.S. diplomatic boycott, has put extra scrutiny on how the network covers the Games, starting with the telecast of the opening ceremonies on February 4, with Mike Tirico hosting from Beijing and Today‘s Savannah Guthrie in the states.
Human rights groups already have called on NBC and other broadcasters to drop plans to carry the Games, and while that was never a likely prospect, network executives said this week they will add two China experts: Andy Browne, former China editor at the Wall Street Journal and now editorial director of Bloomberg New Economy, as well as Jing Tsu, a cultural historian who is Yale professor of China studies.
NBCUniversal is in the midst of a $7.75 billion deal with the International Olympic Committee for rights to air the Games through 2032. On a Ricochet podcast last month, Costas noted how unlikely it would have been for NBC to drop the Games, given the huge investment and because it is one of the few big events left that cuts across demographic segments.
Costas acknowledged that there is a “diplomatic aspect” to being an Olympics broadcaster in a host country, but international situations still cannot be ignored. He said that if he were still hosting, he would be mindful that “you’re not trying to stir the pot. You’ve got friends and colleagues there, and who knows what the Chinese might do to make their lives difficult or uncomfortable. But, as skillfully as I could, I would try to make sure that we did not turn a blind eye to that very large elephant in the room.”