NBC Sports will not be sending an announcing team to the Beijing Winter Olympics due to coronavirus concerns, not because the host country is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority.
In an announcement on Wednesday, Greg Hughes, NBC Sports senior vice president of communications, confirmed that all reporting on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be done remotely from the Stamford, Connecticut facility. Initially, the teams were slated to report on the figure skating, Alpine skiing, and snowboarding events.
“The announce teams for these Olympics, including figure skating, will be calling events from our Stamford (Conn.) facility due to COVID concerns,” Hughes told USA Today.
“We’ll still have a large presence on the ground in Beijing and our coverage of everything will be first-rate as usual, but our plans are evolving by the day as they are for most media companies covering the Olympics,” Hughes added.
Molly Solomon, president of NBC Olympics Production, said the coverage strategy would be similar to how the network covered the Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed a year due to the coronavirus.
“The Beijing model is going to be very similar to Tokyo in that the heartbeat of our Olympic operation will actually be in Stamford, Conn., at our NBC Sports headquarters. We’ll have more personnel there than in the host city,” Solomon said.
“With COVID’s changing conditions and China’s zero-tolerance policy, it’s just added a layer of complexity to all of this, so we need to make sure we can provide the same quality experience to the American viewers,” she added. “That’s why we are split between the two cities.”
According to the Hill, NBC’s Olympic host Mike Tirico will be reporting from Beijing for the first few days of the games before returning to the United States to report on the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
Even though the Biden administration said it would be enacting a diplomatic boycott of the games over China’s human rights abuses, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Wednesday that as many as 46 officials would be traveling to Beijing with the president’s approval.
“[The] list of 18 American officials seeking visas for the Beijing-hosted Winter Games has expanded to 46, which will be approved,” the newspaper claimed, citing an anonymous Chinese diplomatic source.
“Washington insists its boycott stands, describing its delegation as consular support,” the report added.