“The IOC deserves all of the disdain and disgust that comes their way for going back to China yet again,” Costas said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
Costas referenced the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2015 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia as examples of the International Olympic Committee’s seeming disregard for the prevalence of human rights abuses when selecting host nations. But now, there’s a “greater understanding of everything that China represents,” he said.
“They’re shameless about this stuff,” Costas said of the IOC.
Journalists will face a unique challenge during the Beijing games — balancing politics and sports, CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said, adding that there are many unknowns in terms of censorship and how free international journalists will be when it comes to reporting on events in and around the games.
NBC previously announced it would include geopolitical context during its Beijing coverage, but that its focus will be on the athletes.
Costas, acknowledging his respect for the challenges his former colleagues will face in Beijing, described Olympics reporting as a sort of “quasi journalism.” That’s because NBC pays a massive rights fee along with the production costs, putting the network in a somewhat promotional position for the Games. He added that covering the Olympics isn’t simply a news event, but also an important “cultural panorama” and “travel log” of the host nation, aspects that could be greatly reduced because of Covid and the potential for constant monitoring by Chinese authorities.
“It’s a centerpiece of the entire network strategy at a time where everything is fractionalized,” Costas said.
During the fanfare of the Games, Stelter asked how viewers should expect the geopolitical context to be covered.
“I would anticipate … [NBC] will acknowledge the issues at the beginning,” Costas said, “and then address them only if something specific that cannot be ignored happens during the course of the Games.”