Bob Costas covered his first Olympics for NBC in 1988, hosting the opening ceremony for most of the Olympics for nearly three decades afterward.
The fact that he wasn’t back in his usual perch describing athletes parading around the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday night was a shock to many who didn’t know he had announced a year ago he’d cede the job to Mike Tirico.
Opening ceremony: Highlights from the celebration in Pyeongchang
“I am going to be like the rest of the country, watching Mike Tirico, who will be an able successor in Korea for the Winter Olympics” Costas said on the Today show last February.
Tirico was joined in the booth by former Today show anchor Katie Couric.
Costas had called the opening ceremony from 1992 through the 2014 Sochi Games, where he battled pink eye. While he anchored NBC’s prime-time coverage in the 2016 Rio Games, he didn’t call the opening ceremony. That task was shared by Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer, the longtime Today host who was fired over sexual misconduct allegations in November.
Costas, unlike Tirico, was willing to weigh in on controversial issues during his coverage of prior Olympics, including performance-enhancing drugs.
Friday’s broadcast lacked more than just a brief mention of the IOC’s ban of Russia for leading a state-sponsored doping system. The IOC allowed Russian athletes to compete if each could prove their anti-doping histories. Those Russian athletes who participated in the ceremony were not allowed to carry the Russian flag and their uniforms read “OAR,” short for “Olympics Athletes from Russia.”
Tirico also didn’t go into much detail when mentioning Vice President Pence, who was in attendance. So there was nothing on the war of words between the Turmp administration and North Korea — whose athletes marched alongside of South Korea as part of a combined effort in this Games — or this week’s controversy between Pence and openly gay Team USA figure skater Adam Rippon.
Costas, however, wasn’t universally missed.
And of course Gangnam Style, Psy’s hit from 2012, was played because, well, it’s arguably the one worldwide K-pop hit in recent memory. The song played as Team USA made their way around the stadium.
Since the ceremony took place hours before NBC broadcast it, it had already been known that Tonga had its shirtless flag-bearer back. Pita Taufatofua’s oiled up upper body fared better in the news media and social media than his performance as a taekwondo competitor in the Rio Summer Games, where he was eliminated in the first round.
Taufatofua didn’t want to wait for the 2020 Summer Games to take his shirt off again, so he decided to quit his job doing social media and take up cross-country skiing — and qualified for Pyeongchang.
So, he was back shiny in near-freezing temperatures. Shirtless. Again.
Published at Sat, 10 Feb 2018 04:54:57 +0000