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NBC Will Not Send Announcers to Beijing Winter Olympics, Citing COVID-19 Concerns

The announcement followed a warning from Team USA that athlete's personal cell phone data may be under surveillance from the Chinese government

NBC has opted not to send announcers to China for the upcoming Olympic Games.

Instead, the majority of the network’s work will be conducted from the NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. This is the second consecutive  Olympic Games the network has made this call.

Molly Solomon, the head of NBC’s Olympics production unit, said in a statement that the company was concerned about COVID-19 and China’s zero-tolerance policy regarding infections.

“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,” said Soloman.

“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 said. “That’s why we are split between the two cities.”

About 250 people employed by NBC are already in Beijing. Most are a part of the network’s technical team.

“We are in a closed loop. It is restrictive access, but it does allow us to access the broadcast center and venues,” said NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel to AP News. Zenkel is one of the few network members in China’s capital.

Announcers for alpine skiing, figure skating, and snowboarding had been expected to be sent to China for the games but will now remain in the US following NBC’s decision.

Prime-time Olympics host Mike Tirico will still travel to China to cover the games from Feb. 3 to 10 before returning to California. He’ll then host the Super Bowl on Feb. 13 for NBC.

“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,” Greg Hughes, NBC Sport’s senior vice president communications, told USA Today.

“I think they were a little bit wary that if someone tested positive for COVID, the Chinese government basically takes you and sequesters you,” said Snowboarding analyst Todd Richards to USA Today. “NBC has no control, so they wanted to have more control over the situation.”

The network’s minimal in-person presence comes a week after US athletes were encouraged to use burner phones to avoid surveillance from the Chinese government.

Team USA issued an advisory to all athletes that their personal devices could be at risk.

“Like computers, the data and applications on cell phones are subject to malicious intrusion, infection and data compromise,” the organization warned

The Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee issued a statement saying collected personal data would not be misused.

“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of personal information,” the Committee said in a statement. “Personal information collected by Beijing 2022 will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary. Information of accredited media representatives will only be used for purposes related to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

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7 responses to “NBC Will Not Send Announcers to Beijing Winter Olympics, Citing COVID-19 Concerns”

  1. HerrDoktor says:

    That’s fair. I wouldn’t send anyone there either.

  2. Aux1661 says:

    Hope the athletes don’t test positive for Covid while they are there and have there doors welded shut on there lodgings while they are inside!

  3. Devilsgun says:

    Olympics have been dumb shut for eons now. Stop wasting time on sports shit and step into reality

  4. Rawdog says:

    I have a question for everyone who reads this.

    WHY are you venerating these ‘athletes’? Have any of you EVER spoken to them?

    I HAVE.

    They are venal, amoral, low IQ assholes whose goal is to win a gold medal for engaging in an activity that is absolutely USELESS.
    [Think of the ‘artist’ painter who demands that you give him/her a million dollars for a dropcloth that a REAL painter (paints cars, houses, boats) would throw away.]

    After they win the medal, their goal is to PROSTITUTE themselves to evil corporations…Hey, I’m Jimmy Felps. I did really good at something NOBODY cares about. I won a gold medal. Monsanto is a GREAT corporation. Buy their GMO shit…because I said so…

    …then after the shill for Wheaties, they ‘transition’ and sing really bad songs on Libtard awards shows…”stunning and brave”

    Stupid morons, you are the reason why we have lost…

  5. Ron8d says:

    Somone should remind NBC that their announcers are all tripple-vaccinated. Did they forget about that or something? Tough call, but if I were an athlete competing, I would back out.

  6. SKECHER_9 says:

    Good info. I am still a little surprised that we are still allowing athletes to compete.

  7. neilinda says:

    Wondering if they are aware of new city lockdowns, port closures and reports of new variants??