‘Today’ isn’t sending its team to Olympics due to coronavirus, travel concerns

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NBC News has made the historic decision to not send its full anchor team to the Olympics for the first time in recent memory.

The network will dispatch de facto co-anchor Craig Melvin to Beijing during the games, but Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and the rest of the regular “Today” team are staying put in New York, reports CNN’s Brian Stelter.

The reason appears to be rising coronavirus and omicron concerns as well as the extremely strict health and safety protocols both in China and revolving around travel to and from there.

Guthrie is still slated to co-host the Opening Ceremony with Mike Tirico, but will do so remotely from New York City, similar to how NBC Sports made the decision to keep all of its announcers and commentators in Stamford, Connecticut, another potential historic first for the network.

While “Today” anchors and crew often travel on chartered, private flights to big events (which is sometimes dictated in talent contracts) and stay in expansive hotel accommodations (sometimes the network all but takes over entire hotels), NBC apparently decided it was still too tough to get everyone there safely, cover the games and then ultimately get them home again in a timely fashion once the games are done.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for “Today” anchors to appear back on set in New York just hours after stepping off long flights from the Olympics.

“Today” at the Olympics was a one time multi-week extravaganza that included a large portable studio that was shipped around the world to wherever the games took place.

The team frequently cozied up with Olympians and took viewers on cultural tours of the host city and country.

For its coverage of the delayed 2020 Olympics in 2021, NBC did send some of the “Today” team to Tokyo, but they were set up inside their own “bubble” of sorts a in hotel complex that served as both their home away from home and studio, which was on the roof of the building.

In the past, however, the show cut back on sending its full team to the host city for weeks on end.

Guthrie didn’t go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro because of concerns over the Zika virus and its affect on pregnant women. Guthrie was pregnant with her second child at the time.

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