Sports broadcaster Bob Costas said Sunday the International Olympic Committee is “shameless” for returning to China for the second time in 14 years.
“The IOC deserves all of the disdain and disgust that comes their way for going back to China yet again,” Costas said as a guest on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Costas, who has covered 12 Olympic Games as a host and commentator, also said the Olympics being in Beijing adds a concern about “press freedom.” He referred to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as other examples.
“The restrictions on press freedom and the sense that everyone there is being monitored in some way,” said Costas, who formerly worked for NBC. “We had that feeling in 2008 in Beijing, and I think if anything, it’s been ramped up now.”
NBC Sports — owned by NBC Universal, which paid $7.75 billion in 2014 for the Olympic Games’ broadcast rights through 2032 — has announced it will not send announcers to Beijing. Aside from host Mike Tirico, who is expected to be in Beijing for the opening ceremony but return after a few days, NBC’s broadcasters will comment on the events remotely.
Costas said he hopes NBC spends time talking about human rights concerns in China, but he doesn’t expect much talk aside from obligatory mentions.
“I would anticipate [NBC] will acknowledge the issues at the beginning and then address them only if something specific that cannot be ignored happens during the course of the Games,” he said.