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Volume 24 No. 112
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Mike Tirico Won't Be As Political During Olympics As Costas

New NBC primetime Olympics host Mike Tirico said viewers can expect less politics out of him at the Pyeongchang Games compared to his predecessor. Bob Costas, who anchored NBC’s Olympics coverage from '92-'16, memorably slammed the Russian government’s aggressive foreign policy and poor human rights record at the '14 Sochi Games and also made it a point at the '08 Beijing Games to recall the Tiananmen Square massacre with a live stand-up shot from the site. Tirico said he will carry a softer touch. “I’m much more a believer of ‘Here are the facts, you decide,’” Tirico said. “I don’t want to say (more) than Bob, but just in general, that’s my approach to most of these things. You don’t see me in 27, 28 years doing a lot of commentary within sports on ‘The NFL should do this,’ or ‘How dare the NBA.’ If I have an opinion, I will suggest a line of questioning, perhaps look to carve out a little bit of space to say something. But I’m of the opinion, especially here at the start, that people aren’t coming to watch the Games to watch me.”

HEADED TO A HOT ZONE: While tensions with North Korea have temporarily eased this month, South Korea remains a hotbed of world and regional political tensions. The North’s nuclear capabilities continue to be seen by the U.S. as a critical strategic threat, and President Trump’s aggressive rhetoric toward the North has not been universally embraced by American allies in the region. Domestically, South Korea is still reeling from the February '17 impeachment of President Park Geun-hye in a sprawling corruption scandal. Tirico said, "Bob’s not at home in Omaha saying, ‘We’ve got to the watch the Olympics to see what Mike’s doing.’ You need to watch Mikaela (Shiffrin) ski or Nathan Chen skate, that kind of stuff. So when the opportunity is right, and when the moment calls for it, I trust that our Olympic team, Jim (Bell), Joe (Gesue) and Becky (Chatman), will trust my editorial judgment to say, ‘Guys we should be doing this, or I’d love to have the opportunity to say this.’ But it’s not all about, ‘Here’s my plan, I’m going to put this out there on a nightly basis.'”

COVERING ANY ATHLETE PROTESTS: Tirico during a conference call said NBC has a "responsibility" to cover any potential athlete protests that take place at the Games. He said, "Our responsibility as reporters, journalists, hosts is to document the event that's happening in front of us, and if there is some sort of protest, I think it's important to do that." He added any U.S. athletes using the Games to protest may allow the opportunity to examine why it is happening.