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NBC says Leslie Jones can keep doing her unique brand of Olympics commentary

Some of Leslie Jones’s Olympics videos were blocked by a “third-party error” and not by NBC, the network said. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/File)
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Comedian Leslie Jones is free to resume her popular, often profane and always enthusiastic coverage of the Olympic Games after NBC said a “third-party error” led to some of her videos being blocked on social media.

Jones had been posting coverage using video of her TV screen during the Winter Games while she offered her take on what was unfolding — just as she has done for multiple Olympic Games.

“Leslie Jones does not stay anywhere I’m not welcomed,” she wrote on social media early Monday morning, adding that she might stop sharing her unique takes with her 1.4 million followers on Twitter and 1.6 million on Instagram.

“I’m starting to feel like this should be my last Olympics I live tweet,” the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member continued. “I know, I know, another celebrity b-------. But I’m tired of fighting the folks who don’t want me to do it. They block my videos and they get folks who think they can do it like me. And I’m tired of fighting them.

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“I love the athletes and they love me doing it. And I know y’all love it. But now it’s just gotten too hard and no one is fighting for or with me. Soooo I guess I’ll leave it to the professionals. But thank you for all the love. #uptoyallnowJones”

By Monday evening, the situation had been resolved as far as NBC was concerned. “She is free to do her social media posts as she has done in the past,” spokesman Greg Hughes told the Associated Press. “She is a super fan of the Olympics, and we are super fans of her.”

Jones had not yet returned to social media as of Tuesday morning and has had no comment.

Jones’s coverage provided a fresh take, given that most of NBC’s broadcasters are doing commentary from a studio in Connecticut because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

But NBC closely guards the sharing of video and signed a $7.75 billion deal with the International Olympic Committee for rights to telecast the Games through 2032. At a time of smaller TV ratings for the Olympics, non-NBC affiliates cannot run highlights until after the network stops broadcasting, typically at 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, and the length of clips are limited.

For Jones, watching the Games is a labor of love.

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“I do this because I really enjoy watching the Olympics, I really love you guys’ reaction, I love that you guys enjoy,” she said. “This is, like, everyone coming together, no matter what’s going on, and competing in the Games.”

NBC embraced Jones’s contributions during its coverage of the Olympic competition in Rio de Janeiro and PyeongChang and added a highlights show featuring Kevin Hart and Snoop Dogg on the Peacock streaming service during the Tokyo Games. Now her feed typically shows clip after clip of her TV, with her pointed observations amusing followers and often sparking energetic conversations.

When Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva fell on her third attempt after landing two quadruple jumps — the first by a woman at an Olympics — Jones offered a sympathetic comment that sounded like it might have been uttered in any living room in America. “Don’t be upset, baby, don’t be upset,” she told the 15-year-old in a voice-over. “I like her hair bun, too. Don’t be upset, baby, because you did your thing. You trust and believe.”

Jones’s love of the Olympics started in childhood. “I have watched Olympics since I could walk lol,” she tweeted Sunday night. “Me and my dad. So this is from my heart. Y’all should be asking @NBCSports why they don’t see that. And think they can replace me with just anyone. Again not saying I was first just saying it’s frustrating.”

She went on to add, “Y’all better believe they need me more than I need them real talk! I was doing this long before. Not saying I was the first but I am saying I don’t need no help thanks! I got this.”

What to know about the Beijing Olympics

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have come to a close.

The United States finished fifth in the final medal standings at the Beijing Olympics, with eight gold, 10 silver and seven bronze. Here’s a look back at the Team USA athletes who reached the podium.

Watch Washington Post reporters recall notable moments from the 2022 Winter Games and what it was like to cover the Olympics from a pandemic bubble in Beijing.

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“Olympic governance is not apolitical. It is recklessly illogical. It is not protecting athletes and competitive integrity in adherence to the convoluted standards of the World Anti-Doping Agency.” Read Jerry Brewer.

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