Bob Costas Has NBC Backing on His "Moment of Silence"

James WilliamsAnalyst IIIJuly 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES - JULY 10:  (L to R)  '2004 Olympics' executive producer Dick Ebersol, and hosts Bob Costas and Mary Carillo speak with the press at the 2004 TCA Summer Press Tour at the Century Plaza Hotel on July 10, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

There are few broadcasters in the business with the power and ability to challenge the International Olympic Committee, but Bob Costas is one of them.

During the prime-time broadcast of the opening ceremony on NBC, Costas will offer an on-air minute of silence in honor of the Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Games—something the IOC has failed to do for 40 years despite numerous requests.

The most recent ones have come from President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who was the head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games.

IOC president Jacques Rogge has formally declined numerous requests to have a moment of silence in remembrance of the 11 Israeli athletes and a West German police officer murdered at the 1972 Munich Games.

"We are going to pay homage to the athletes as we always have done in the past and will do in the future," Rogge said, according to the Daily Mail of London. "We will also be present on the exact day of the killings, Sept. 5, at the military airport of Furstenfeldbruck where the killings actually happened. We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident."

But there are contradictions with the Olympic governing body.

The IOC, rightfully so, had a moment of silence at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed hours before the games began in a practice run.

Costas has taken on the task of doing the right thing. His moment of silence in honor of the Israeli athletes and the policeman will go on with the full backing of his bosses at NBC.

NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell told me from his office at the International Broadcast Center in London on Thursday that he will not keep Costas from offering his moment of silence.

"We've been talking about that among many other things about the opening ceremony, and I think if there is anyone who knows how to handle himself in that situation, have the right approach and tone, it's Bob and Matt [Lauer]," Bell said. "We are going to handle it appropriately and respectfully. Bob has always had a big role in our planning of the coverage, and it's been a healthy collaborative process."


All quotes used in this story, unless otherwise noted, were obtained first hand by James Williams via a conference call Thursday.