Bob Costas and NBC’s Olympics team talk Rio’s early troubles at the TCA summer press tour

Executive producer of the NBC Olympics broadcast Jim Bell, NBC Olympics correspondent Mary Carillo and NBC Olympics prime-time host Bob Costas, from left, speak onstage via satellite at the 2016 Rio Olympics panel discussion at the 2016 Television Critics Assn. press tour
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

If the Rio Olympics are in trouble, you wouldn’t immediately know it from listening to the NBC panelists discussing the Games at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour Tuesday morning.

“Abandon your expectations,” read a title card that opened a promotional video introduced by the network that included energetic footage from around Brazil with correspondents Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Tom Brokaw.

It was an inadvertently pointed request before the opening of this year’s Olympics, which have been hampered by more than the usual amount of controversy, health and safety concerns and questions heading into the opening ceremony.

“I am pleased to report that preparations are coming along great,” said Jim Bell, executive producer for the network’s Olympics coverage, who appeared via satellite with correspondent Mary Carillo and anchor Bob Costas, who will again host NBC’s prime-time coverage.


But even after touting the uniqueness of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as an Olympic setting, as well as the strong prospects for the U.S. women’s teams as well as gymnast Simone Biles, concerns about the Zika virus and the safety of Rio as a host city, particularly with regard to open-water swimming, were an unavoidable issue.

“They’ve been told ‘try to keep your mouth closed,’” Costas said. “I guess some new techniques will be required.” He added he wasn’t trying to be glib, and revealed plans to interview the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach ,about these concerns and whether the Games should have been rescheduled.

Carillo, who will be covering the open-water events, compared the safety concerns of Rio with the goose droppings that plagued swimmers in London’s Hyde Park for the 2012 Olympics.

“Will you take a dip yourself?” Costas asked quickly.

“Absolutely not,” Carillo replied.

During a brief Q&A at the close of the panel, all three compared Rio’s initial troubles with those of the recent Olympics in Sochi and London, where similar questions about security and preparedness were major topics going into the Games. The hope is that everything will fall into place once the torch is lit, but Bell said the network is ready if problems persist.

“If it becomes a story, we’ll cover it,” he said.


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