AP News reports that NBC prime-time Olympic host Mike Tirico is returning home on Monday, three days earlier than expected.
Tirico’s will return to a full schedule—hosting NBC Sports on Wednesday and Thursday from their headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, then flying to Los Angeles on Friday to cover the Super Bowl.
However, though his schedule is full, his unexpected early return invites questions, particularly since his exit from China coincides with recent on-air remarks about China’s human rights abuses.
According to the AP, NBC officials state that Tirico’s schedule was always subject to change based on COVID-19 and other factors.
The Daily Caller notes that “While it’s not crystal clear why the schedule has abruptly changed, it’s worth noting that Tirico discussed China’s genocide of ethnic minorities during his Olympic coverage.”
During his coverage of Olympic events, Tirico boldly said: “China is the nation where COVID began,” and “Everything and everyone attached to these Games is facing questions.”
“The United States government is not here, a diplomatic boycott announced this fall joined by Canada, Great Britain and Australia citing China’s human rights record and the US government’s declaration that the Chinese Communist Party is guilty of committing genocide on the Uyghur Muslim population in Western Xinjiang region,” according to Mediaite.
On Jan. 22, the Christian Post reported the Chinese government warned Olympic athletes could be punished if they speak out about rights issues, Chinese laws or regulations.”
According to Reuters, Yang Shu, deputy director-general of Beijing 2022’s International Relations Department, said during a virtual briefing on Jan. 24, “Any behavior or speeches that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment.”
Yang justified his comments by noting that the “politicization of sports” is forbidden under the Olympic Charter.
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