Tonight, viewers of the Olympic Games on NBC will not get to see Bob Costas anchoring the events. Instead, Matt Lauer of “Today” is going to be sitting in the main chair.
Viewers tuning into the Olympics during any primetime broadcast since last Thursday may have been surprised to see Bob Costas wearing a pair of glasses. That is certainly not the normal look for the venerable broadcaster. As Costas has explained, he is suffering from an eye infection. He also said, initially, that he believed it would have cleared up by now.
That, however, has not happened, with the infection instead spreading from his left eye to his right. The result is a set of very red eyes and, seemingly, some difficulty seeing on Costas’ part.
Costas was on the phone with Lauer this morning on “Today” to discuss the infection and anchor switch. He stated “Reluctantly, I was trying to throw a complete game here, but I think we’re going to have to go to the bullpen, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but you’re Mariano Rivera, at least tonight.” Costas added, “Let’s hope it’s only tonight. I’m walking around, I might as well be playing ‘Marco Polo.’ I have no idea where I am.”
In a press release, Costas issued a statement explaining that the issue is not the fact that “It was becoming increasingly noticeable,” but rather that, “It got to the point where, as a practical matter, I simply couldn”t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.” Costas closed by stating that he hopes to return soon and that, “The last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”
How much the switch in anchors affects the broadcast remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a different look for NBC if nothing else. This marks the first time that Costas won’t be hosting the primetime portion of coverage at the Olympics since CBS aired the Nagano Olympics in 1998, breaking his streak of 157 consecutive primetime Olympic broadcasts.
Be sure to tune in tonight’s coverage and see how Lauer fares in primetime. Lauer is of course no slouch as an anchor and seems to be preparing for the change. In a press release, Lauer is quoted as saying “I’m happy to keep his chair warm. Although I might Purell it before I sit in it!”
Probably a good call on Lauer’s part.