Instead of higher, faster, stronger, the NBC coverage of the Winter Olympics hit a few speed bumps over the last 24 hours. The news from Pyeongchang was all about apologies, complaints, and wardrobes.
Fans who thought they were getting live coverage of the events were angered about a spoiler on the men’s slopestyle winner (the first US gold medal), while NBC’s Joshua Cooper Ramo insulted Koreans with an ill-advised analysis.
Topping it all was a wardrobe malfunction from figure skater Yura Min, who made the best of an awkward outfit slippage in the middle of a performance and was gracious in her post-skate remarks.
It took a day, but NBC apologized late yesterday for the Friday Opening Ceremony remarks from Joshua Cooper Ramo, who cited Japan as a shining example for Korea. Brought on to provide historical context, Ramo apparently ignored the enmity between the two countries caused by Japan’s occupation of the peninsula from 1910-1945, which included using Koreans as “comfort women” for Japanese troops in field brothels.
Ramo was attempting to make a point about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Olympics.
“Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technical and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,” Ramo said. The remarks sparked immediate outrage.
NBC issued an apology on its NBCSN cable network Saturday and also made more formal contrition to the Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee. Ramo will no longer appear on broadcasts, with NBC claiming his duties had been fulfilled. NBC said Sunday that local Olympic officials accepted the apology.
Also sparking anger among fans was Team USA’s tweet about the gold medal victory by men’s slopestyler Red Gerard. A tweet congratulating Gerard was made 15 minutes before NBC aired Gerard’s final run, which resulted in a spectacular come-from-behind victory, and roughly 30 minutes before the showcase of Gerard’s reaction to his unexpected win. The spoiler was noted and angrily commented on by tweeters.
Adding to the issue were expletives uttered by the gobsmacked Gerard, which managed to make it into the broadcast despite the tape delay.
NBC Studio host Mike Tirico had to apologize on air. “Apologies for the language,” Tirico said. “You understand the enthusiasm involved there.”
Finally, South Korean skater Yura Min (who holds dual US citizenship) suffered an embarassing moment. As she was spun around by partner Alexander Gamelin, her skimpy red top kept coming loose. While battling the slippage, Min kept on with the routine. Min told the Detroit Free Press that the hook on her top came undone just seconds into her routine. “I was like, ‘Oh no!’” she said. “If that comes undone, the whole [outfit] could just pop off. I was terrified the entire programme.”
To keep the wardrobe from completely falling apart, Min limited her movements so her arms would be kept back, preventing the costume from falling off. She did pause once when her top came off her shoulders. But she made it through the awkward moments with grace, later posting a smiling video online with the word “oopsie.”
Min and her partner finished 9th, but will have another chance in the games in the individual pairs competition.
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