NBC confronting this cruel reality with Beijing Olympics

COVID, geopolitical concerns make Beijing Games far from joyous for NBC

COVID, geopolitical concerns make Beijing Games far from joyous for NBC

From a TV angle, it feels as if the Beijing Olympics will end with NBC’s host Mike Tirico calling his inner-Bill Belichick and saying,

“We’re on to Paris.”

That is where the network’s next Olympics, the 2024 Summer Games, will be held and conceivably — fingers crossed — we will have curbed the COVID-19 epidemic worldwide to a point that it will no longer be a supreme narrative.

Notwithstanding it feels as if, for the Beijing Olympics, which are upon us starting this week, NBC will try to get through them as much as exalt concerning them. China’s zero-COVID strategy means there will be no international fans. Meantime, almost all of NBC’s announcers will be working 7,000 miles away, at the network’s Stamford, Conn., headquarters.

From that distance, NBC will attempt to navigate the geopolitical questions that bedevil China. They will probably address to calm critics, which may not satisfy anyone.

Even so the TV games must go on, since Beijing is one of the stops Comcast/NBC was given on its current 10 Olympic Games deal, which is for $12 billion and extends through 2032.

NBC is going to make an earnest attempt to make these games as great as they can be, highlighting Olympic stars, such as Mikaela Shiffrin, Nathan Chen, Shaun White and Chloe Kim. What will you see?

Mike Tirico, front and center
In 2016, Tirico joined NBC to become the new face of its sports division. It is eventually, absolutely happening. This month, Tirico will host the Super Bowl and the Olympics for NBC. Next season, he is slated to take over as the lead play-by-player on

“Sunday Night Football.”

This will be Tirico’s third Olympics as host after replacing Bob Costas, who recently described the IOC’s selection of China as “shameless” due to its human rights violations.

This will be Mike Tirico’s third time covering the Olympics.
Icon Sports-wire via Getty Images

“I would anticipate what they’ll do is acknowledge the [geopolitical] issues at the beginning, and then address them only if something specific that cannot be ignored happens during the Games, which very well may happen,”

Costas said on CNN’s

A propaganda gift to China: The shame of these Olympics

“Reliable Sources.”

Peacock, front and center
NBC seemingly agreed to one of the critique of its Tokyo Summer Games coverage — it felt like contending in an Olympic event just trying to locate where sports were being televised. Now, the network has said, if you have its direct-to-consumer video platform, Peacock, you will be able to watch everything at any time. They said the maneuvering will be easy. Making this experience simple will be very vital for making the Olympics work for the most ardent viewers.

No outside fans
Due to COVID-19, fans from outside of China will not be in attendance. There will be some Chinese onlookers, yet it will not have that true Olympic Games feeling. There will be only “selected fans” at events.

NBC will try to be creative with cameras, catching the family and friends of the athletes reacting stateside. It’s not the same, still during the Tokyo Olympics, NBC discovered some magic moments, such as when it had a camera in place to capture the reaction in Seaward, Alaska, when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke.
No announcers on site
With China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 strategy, NBC decided to not send its announcers to Beijing to call the events. That is not ideal for capturing the emotion of the Games. Without fans in attendance, it will be a challenge to make it feel as big as an Olympics usually does.

Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremonies broadcast with Savannah Guthrie, pictured here with Lindsey Vonn, who joins the team as an analyst. NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

Who we’ll see
Tirico will host the Opening commemoration with Savannah Guthrie of “The Today Show.” Andy Browne and Jing Tsu, many years experts on Chinese and East Asian culture and global affairs, will be part of the Opening Ceremony coverage, also.

The big addition in terms of investigators is Lindsey Vonn.

Maria Taylor will be a big part of NBC’s coverage. The ex-ESPNer involved the network for the Tokyo Olympics. Taylor will host NBC’s late-night show in the second week following hosting of the Super Bowl. In the daytime, Rebecca Lowe will control the hosting duties. On USA Network, Ahmed Fareed will be leading the coverage.
For now, Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart are not slated to return following working the Summer Games.

Super Bowl shuffle?
NBC as well hopes with its coverage of the Super Bowl wedged in between the two weeks of the Games, it will receive a ratings bounce. NBC hopes so, still, subsequently it will likely take a sigh and look forward to Paris.



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