NBC is gearing up for its 18 days of wall-to-wall coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. On July 27, NBC Sports Group announced some of its upcoming plans for broadcast coverage of the Games at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles.
NBC was grilled by TV reporters if the network will cover the anti-LGBT measures, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which forbid the adoption of Russian-born children by homosexuals. Another measure allows Russian authorities to detain tourists and foreign nationals who are gay.
Veteran sportscaster Al Michaels will host daytime coverage from Sochi, Russia. Michaels served as host of NBC’s weekend and weekday daytime coverage from London (2012) and Vancouver (2010). Appearing on NBC Sports Network (weekdays) and NBC (weekends), Michaels will be hosting the Olympics for NBC Sports Group for the third consecutive time.
Apolo Anton Ohno will serve as analyst for coverage of short-track speedskating. He won eight medals (two gold) over three Olympic Winter Games for that sport.
During the Games, which start Feb. 6, NBC will have a documentary on former Olympic figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. Mary Carillo will interview both skaters. Twenty years ago, Kerrigan was infamously hit in the knee by a Harding associate prior to the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer.
NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus was also asked by TV reporters and critics if NBC would provide coverage of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
Lazarus responded that NBC would provide coverage of the political tension and cultural differences if the controversial anti-LGBT measures surface as an issue during the upcoming Winter Olympics.
All host nations, including Russia, “come with political and social issues, and we will address those issues as they are relevant at the time of the Games,” Lazarus told a crowd of almost 200 television writers at the Television Critics Association conference in Beverly Hills.
NBC expects that tradition to continue next year in Sochi, Russia. ”Governments across the world have different laws,” Lazarus said, who stopped short of saying NBC would advocate against the laws.
According to Lazarus, the International Olympic Committee has said that gay athletes will be welcome in Russia and encouraged to compete.
“Obviously, as a company, we are for equality and opportunity for all,” Lazarus said. “We don’t believe in the spirit of the law they have passed, and we are hopeful the Olympic spirit will win out.”
NBC’s Al Michaels added, “There will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out.”