Not only was Bob Costas NBC’s prime-time Olympic anchor for 12 Games and over two decades, he also once did it with televised pink eye, so the least we can do is hear him out. While a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday, Costas, who passed on his hosting torch in 2017, expressed his belief that this summer’s Tokyo Olympics need to be pushed back a year. “It should be postponed, not canceled,” he explains. “If they postponed it until the summer of 2022, then, as a one-off, it would go back to the way it was prior to the ’90s.” Says Costas, “Under the circumstances, it makes sense. ” Until 1994, both the summer and winter games occurred during the same calendar year.
After shifting the Games last summer due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee declared that the Tokyo Olympics will happen “with or without COVID,” and in March Japan opted to ban foreign visitors from attending the Games, recognizing the reality that many would-be tourists would still very much be traveling with COVID. As such, in the end, the decision is not Bob Costas’s to make. “You’ve got to understand, the International Olympic Committee holds all the cards.” In response to Maher’s opinion that the IOC is often connected to “something shady,” Costas agrees.
“It’s not wrong. They have an affinity for authoritarian regimes. They’ll be back in Beijing for the Winter Olympics. They were in Sochi in 2014. They were in Beijing in 2008,” he says, noting NBC was always nervous to discuss politics with regards to Olympic host countries. In one example, the network apologized for comments Costas made about China’s human rights record in 1996 after the country’s Foreign Ministry lead a campaign calling for his dismissal. Joked Costas, “Putin was more stealth in 2014 in Sochi. He just gave me pink eye.”