Here’s the new sign of our times. NBC announcers will be calling the entire 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games from studios in Stamford, Connecticut.
Why? The obvious reason, COVID concerns. The Peacock Network confirmed that everyone, except for host Mike Tirico, will be staying in the U.S. and call the events from monitors at NBC Sports headquarters.
Here’s what VP of Communications Greg 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.”
If you polled the announcers and commentators candidly, it would be shocking if a great majority weren’t secretly relieved that they would not have to travel halfway around the world to spend a month in China.
It’s not as drastic of a decision when you consider this is the second Olympic Games during the pandemic, and NBC did the same thing in the summer of 2021 for the Tokyo Games.
Here’s a quote from Molly Sorenson VP of Olympic Production for NBC.
“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. That’s why we are split between the two cities.”
The athletes are going to be on their own for the most part. U.S. government officials will not be in attendance, and it’s hard for anyone to get in or out of China without special accommodations.
The Games won’t be a total picnic for our athletes either. Officials have advised everyone to use burner phones to avoid being hacked by the Chinese government.