NBC News Lester Holt
Lester Holt knows he has two jobs while in Tokyo for his 10th Olympics — executing NBC's Summer Games coverage, and finding some good gifts for his grandkids.
The 62-year-old NBC Nightly News and Nightly News Kids Edition anchor caught up with PEOPLE from Japan to chat about all things Olympics, including the souvenirs he's been eyeing for son Stefan Holt's kids Henry, 3, and Sam, 2 (a third baby boy is currently on the way for Henry and Sam).
"I'm trying to shop for them, trying to find them proper gifts," the proud grandfather says. "I went to a store and kind of got the lay of the land and so I'm going to go back on my next 15 minute-break and execute purchases."
The break he mentions — only 15 minutes outside of his hotel or Olympic venues a day — is just one of many rules that members of the media are required to follow while on the ground in Japan as part of COVID-19 safety measures.
"Going out a couple of weeks before we left New York, we were required to download certain apps that the Japanese use for health monitoring and tracking our whereabouts," Holt explains, adding that "when you land you go through several checkpoints — testing, temperature checks and a COVID-19 test. … You wait for a good hour or more for your results, all the time thinking, 'What if I'm positive? What happens now?' "
After arrival, Holt says he was required to take daily coronavirus checks and has to input health updates like his temperature every day. "I embrace it, they're trying to keep us safe and if this is what we have to do, that's what we have to do," he says.
Of course, the differences are noticeable to the Olympics veteran, who says even at the airport he noticed the stark contrast from the usual throngs of family and loved ones gathering to support their athlete.
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Still, he says that — as NBC's sports correspondents have pointed out — empty stadiums "are able to really allow us to hear the events which is kind of unique. Some of the dialogue that sometimes we miss when we're hearing crowd noise. On the news side, that was a really welcome addition. I love feeling like a fly on the wall."
Holt continues, "In terms of the news side ... we really haven't missed a beat."
Holt, himself, is excited to cheer on Team USA's swimmers. He notes that while captivating on television, watching the swimming in person helps one "appreciate how fast these human beings are in the water."
Holt adds, "The time difference between first and being shut out comes down to hundredths of a second. It's amazing when you think about it."
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt airs at 6:30 p.m. ET or check your local listing. Nightly News Kids Edition is available on NBCNews.com, Peacock, YouTube and other digital platforms.
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.