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NBCUniversal Upfront Doubles Down On Olympics Going Ahead Despite Pandemic & Political Worries About Tokyo & Beijing

·3-min read

UPDATED with Paralympic Games commentators info: A majority of Japanese citizens oppose the Olympics to go ahead in Tokyo due to the coronavirus pandemic, but NBC insists the Games will go on, at least for now.

“NBC will be bringing all of it to America,” declared Mike Tirico today at the 2021 virtual NBCUniversal upfronts presentation. Pitching hard for an Olympics that is just over two months away from starting, NBC Sports’ top frontman listed off an arsenal of NBC Sports programming coming over the next year, including a Super Bowl being played right in the middle of a Winter Olympics for the very first time

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With all the concerns about the Olympics, both pandemic and politically based, NBCUniversal took the platform of its upfront on Monday morning to plant a deep flag for the international sporting event.

Promising to be “super sizing our summer” off the rescheduled XXXII Olympiad, top executive Susan Rovner leaned in strong in the opening minutes of the presentation to the Games occurring.

Noting that the Comcast-owned media giant has both the postponed summer games and the Beijing-hosted Winter games, plus LA-set Super Bowl LVI in February 2022, the Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming displayed no hesitation in telling Today co-host Hoda Kotb that the Olympics would launch as planned and provide hefty launch pads for NBCU programming.

That programming includes the Jonas Brothers fronted Olympic Dreams to premiere on July 21, two days before the Games kick off in the Pacific Island nation.

After the talkshow themed upfront concluded, NBC released the full list of the 16 commentators who will be holding down the Olympics fort on-air for the Paralympic Games this summer. Ahmed Fareed and Carolyn Manno will be the primary hosts of NBCU’s coverage with Michelle Konkoly (swimming) conducting play-by-play along with Todd Harris (swimming), Mark Zupan (rugby) Ed Cohen (rugby), Kari Miller (sitting volleyball) and Tanith White (sitting volleyball).

Additionally, Chris Waddell (track & field), Schulte (wheelchair basketball), Lewis Johnson (track & field), Alana Nichols (wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby), Heather Cox (swimming), Bill Spaulding (track & field), Krista Blunk (wheelchair basketball), and Tanith White (sitting volleyball) Ed Cohen (wheelchair rugby). NBC Sports host and reporter Corey Robinson will join the NBCU Paralympic Games team as a studio contributor

Delayed because of the global health crisis from its original dates of July 24- August 9, 2020 to July 23 – August 8, 2021, the Tokyo Olympics was supposed to be a giant jolt for the launch of NBCU’s Peacock streaming service upon its debut last year. Instead, as Tokyo’s Governor argues against holding the Games, the now Summer 2021 Olympics will be almost crowdless, the IOC has canceled his own visit to the site, and towns all over Japan have pulled the plug on competitions being held in their vicinities. How many elite athletes actually show up is TBD.

As for the February 4, 2022 opening Winter Games in Beijing, there is a growing movement to boycott the event altogether in protest over China’s well documented human rights abuses and crackdowns. From the long festering situation in Tibet, to the removal of free speech and other rights in Hong Kong and the detention and “re-education” of millions of Uyghurs in China’s northern region, the Xi Jinping-led regime finds itself potentially losing international face and prestige.

A state of affairs that NBCU had nothing to say about today at the upfronts – but they will surely have to address sooner or later.

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