Matt Lauer replaces Bob Costas for Olympics coverage

Matt Lauer will be replacing Bob Costas on NBC's Olympics coverage while the sportscaster recovers from an eye infection.
(Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

Bob Costas’ eye infection that has been causing American Olympics viewers much discomfort while watching NBC’s coverage of the Games has finally sent the sportscaster back to the bench.

Costas will be sitting out NBC’s primetime and late-night coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, while he recovers from the infection that was just in his left eye when the Olympics began, but has now spread to both eyes.

“Today” host Matt Lauer will be filling in for Costas, who has been told to rest (and give some relief to viewers who were complaining about Costas’ uncomfortable look on social media).

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In a statement, Costas said: “As a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light. I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast. Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”

For his part, Lauer warned that he was happy to keep Costas’ seat warm, “although I might Purell it before I sit in it,” he added.

Costas sitting out the Olympics, even for a night, is a major break with Olympic coverage tradition. Costas has hosted all of NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage since 1988, and has covered every single Olympics since 2000.

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Costas has been treated by NBC doctors and even tried a little self-medication by downing some Russian vodka on the air. But nothing can match a little quiet time in his hotel room.

The pinkish, irritated look of Costas’ eyes was hard for viewers to miss, especially in this HD era. People on Twitter compared Costas’ eyes to a “Walking Dead” zombie, the Pale Man from “Pan’s Labyrinth,” Gozer the Gozerian from “Ghostbusters” and a James Bond villain.

As comedy writer and young adult novelist Cassie St. Onge posted on Twitter: “Every time I see Bob Costas’ eye, it reminds me I have to walk my dogs.”

Hopefully, now that Costas is in recovery, NBC’s Olympics coverage won’t leave the people squirming.


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