Bob Costas will miss his second consecutive prime-time Olympic telecast on Wednesday night as he continues to recover from an eye infection.
“Actually, I don’t feel that bad,” Costas said in a call to the “Today” show, “and the irony of it is, we’ve all felt worse than I feel right now and gone into work…I’ve done lots of ballgames and events feeling much less than my best, but in this case it’s just involuntary. It’s an eye infection, and my eyes are so blurry and watery and become so light-sensitive that even in dim light they’re constantly tearing up.
“I can’t possibly be in the studio, so it’s not a case of just saying, ‘What the heck, I’ll go in not feeling well.’”
Matt Lauer stepped in to anchor Tuesday night’s show and Costas, who compared him to the New York Yankees’ great reliever Mariano Rivera on Tuesday, will fill in. “You’re coming out of the bullpen again tonight,” Costas told Lauer. Although NBC has not specified what the infection is, Costas’s eye was inflamed during Opening Ceremonies on Friday night and the condition worsened and spread to his other eye over the weekend.
NBC had warned that Costas, the anchor of its Olympic coverage for decades, might need several days to recover. His streak of providing reliably amiable coverage ended after 157 consecutive prime-time telecasts over 26 years, dating to the Seoul Olympics of 1988. His absence brought a new appreciation of his talents, with Lauer drawing social-media criticism Tuesday night.
People are taking the news of Matt Lauer replacing Bob Costas the same way they did when they found out Ben Affleck was going to be Batman— cody adams (@the_cadams) February 12, 2014
Of all the people NBC could have chosen to replace Bob Costas why did it have to be Matt Lauer?— Kyenny (@Minoru79) February 12, 2014
I dont think Matt Lauer when I think sports— Glenn Adams (@Gadams81) February 12, 2014
Nothing says sports like the dulcet tones of Matt Lauer— Kyle Benjamin (@KyleRBenjamin) February 12, 2014
It isn’t clear whether NBC might have to return to the bullpen, given Lauer’s joke that Russian President Vladimir Putin might behind the sudden onset of Costas’s infection.