BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN has joined the increasing number of media companies that will not be sending reporters to next month’s Beijing Olympics due to continued concerns about rising COVID-19 cases worldwide and China’s strict policy about those who test positive.
Executive Vice President Norby Williamson, who is in charge of ESPN’s event and studio productions, said in a statement that the network had planned to send four reporters to China but they will now join a larger group covering the Olympics remotely.
“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to us,” Williamson said. “With the pandemic continuing to be a global threat, and with the COVID-related on-site restrictions in place for the Olympics that would make coverage very challenging, we felt that keeping our people home was the best decision for us.”
ESPN will report Olympics results as well as airing features, but the network is under video usage restrictions since NBC holds the rights. ESPN can’t air highlights until after NBC’s live coverage ends, which most days will be at 3 a.m. EST. ESPN news programs may only use up to six minutes of highlights and can’t air any that have been available for more than 72 hours.
The Associated Press will be sending over 100 journalists to the Games.