NBC’s Olympics host Mike Tirico opened network coverage of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing by addressing the host country’s geopolitical and human rights issues.
Tirico acknowledged that China is the “nation where COVID began,” but yet it’s still hosting a celebrated global event. He then detailed China’s treatment of Muslim Uyghurs, which includes forced labor, forced abortions, forced sterilizations and genocide:
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.
Later in the broadcast, Tirico also noted the “escalation of crackdowns on pro-democracy sentiments and protests in Hong Kong” and the disappearance of tennis player Peng Shuai. Peng disappeared after accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in 2021.
Credit to Tirico and NBC for addressing these issues, while other sports networks cover for Chinese genocide and China’s culpability in the COVID-19 pandemic. ESPN will notably not mention either story because it’s a rights partner with the NBA, whose players are profiting from Chinese slave labor.
Tirico made these comments even though he knows the CCP could retaliate against him or his employer. In 1996, Beijing officials orchestrated an effort to force NBC to fire former Olympics hosts Bob Costas for comments he made during a broadcast. Costas said that China was the one nation with the means and the motivation to replicate what the old Soviet Bloc and the Eastern Bloc did with their sports machine.
“Everything and everyone attached to these Games is facing questions,” Tirico said.
And Mike Tirico is the only sportscaster with the confidence and balls to say so.