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Initially, NBC Sports activities had deliberate to ship three asserting groups to Beijing to cowl the Winter Olympic Video games there in February. However that each one modified on Wednesday, when the community introduced it’s opting to maintain its commentators stateside. NBC made the choice in response to the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has led to document caseloads in lots of areas of the world. “The announce groups for these Olympics…can be calling occasions from our Stamford (Conn.) facility as a result of COVID considerations,” mentioned NBC Sports activities senior V.P. of communications Greg Hughes in a Wednesday statement. Hughes added that the community will “nonetheless have a big presence” in Beijing, with approximately 1,000 NBC workers on the bottom.

Even a single complicating issue—like, say, an ongoing international pandemic—would have made Olympics protection a minefield for NBC. However the community may also be required to hold out a cautious balancing act in the way in which it approaches the Video games’ host nation. Beijing has been below hearth for months over its alleged therapy of the Uyghurs, a Chinese language Muslim minority group; in December of final yr, a public tribunal established by a outstanding British human-rights lawyer reportedly discovered that China had engaged in “crimes in opposition to humanity” in its therapy of the Uyghurs, together with “rape, enforced sterilization, torture, imprisonment, persecution, deportation, and enforced disappearance,” and as just lately as Thursday, France’s parliament passed a movement labeling the occasions a “genocide.” (The Chinese language authorities has denied all wrongdoing.) As Bloomberg noted Wednesday, NBC is below strain to acknowledge China’s alleged human-rights violations—which prompted the U.S. to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Video games—in its protection, however may threat angering China in doing so. “It’s damned if you happen to do, damned if you happen to don’t,” Andrew Billings, coauthor of Olympic Tv: Broadcasting the Greatest Present on Earth, informed the outlet.

In a media occasion on Wednesday, Molly Solomon, govt producer and president of NBC Olympics Manufacturing, said the community would tackle the scenario partly by “specializing in telling the tales of Group USA.“ She added, “We perceive that there’s some troublesome points relating to the host nation. Our protection will present perspective on China’s place on this planet, and the geopolitical context wherein these Video games are being held. However the athletes do stay the centerpiece of our protection.” According to TheWrap, NBC is bringing in two China consultants to contribute to Olympics protection: Andy Brown, previously the China editor for The Wall Road Journal, and Jing Tsu, a professor of China research at Yale.

The logistics facet of the equation appears barely simpler to steadiness for NBC, which has coated Olympics remotely earlier than. In the course of the 2008 Summer season Video games, which have been additionally held in Beijing, the community relied on New York–based mostly play-by-play groups to remotely call plenty of occasions. Final yr, when the belated 2020 Summer season Video games have been held in Tokyo, a majority of NBC personnel coated the occasion remotely. NBC had deliberate for 400 extra workers to journey to Tokyo however later pulled them.

Nonetheless, the community should cope with most of the similar factors that earned it a barrage of criticism for its protection of the 2020 Video games: reliance on proprietary streaming providers and a large time distinction, amongst others. Viewership of the Tokyo Video games dropped 42% from Rio in 2016—as author Josef Adalian put it, “The technical time period for this type of Nielsen efficiency is ‘yikes.’”

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