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North Korea provides challenge for NBC’s Olympics coverage

The Olympic Rings on display during the Opening

The Olympic Rings on display during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 05 August 2016. Photo Credit: EPA / SERGEI ILNITSKY

NBC has faced questions before most recent Olympic Games about how it plans to handle – and cover – complicated political and logistical challenges, and how they might affect its employees on site.

Most recently, the focus was the Zika virus in the run-up to last year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro. But perhaps the most concerning situation yet faces the Winter Games set for February in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The site is not far south of the border with North Korea, a country with a volatile, unpredictable leader in Kim Jong-un and an increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons program.

Jim Bell, president of NBC Olympics production and programming, said on Thursday that the network is preparing as best it can.

“We’ve accumulated over the course of these many Olympics a certain degree of experience and sophistication about how to handle a variety of different concerns, whether they be medical, geopolitical or weather-related,” Bell said, speaking at a luncheon to promote Saturday’s launch of the Olympic Channel.

“As with every Games, we’re working very closely with the IOC. We coordinate with the State Department. We coordinate with our own NBC Universal global security people. Everyone is talking to each other and everyone feels very good about things right now.

“Look, I think the fact of the matter is, as we’ve had to point out in the past, bad things happened at the Boston Marathon (in 2013), unfortunately. Bad things happened in Atlanta (in 1996). Bad things can happen anywhere. What are you going to do? Not go? The Games are going to go on, and we feel really good about that.”

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