Citing increasing complexities caused by (what else?) the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NBC said Wednesday that it will not be sending announcers or the majority of hosts to Beijing for its coverage of the winter Olympic games. Instead, the network’s play-by-play coverage and the majority of other coverage will be handled from the Stamford, Connecticut headquarters of NBC sports.
“Something significant has changed virtually every day for the last three months, forcing us to adjust our plan numerous times. And I expect that to continue as well as the challenge of doing the Olympics,” Molly Solomon, NBC’s head of Olympics production, said in a statement.
“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,” Solomon continued.
The cancellation of most on-scene coverage won’t otherwise impact NBC’s coverage of the Olympics; the network has been the exclusive broadcaster of the summer games in the U.S. since 1988 and the Winter Games since 2003. NBC’s deal with the International Olympic Committee will last until 2032.
The rather unsurprising news comes amid current wave of new infections driven by the omicron variant that has also led to the cancellation of in-person parts of Sundance Film Festival 2022 and Palm Springs International Film Festival.