Michael Phelps may not be competing this year, but the most decorated Olympic athlete ever will still be in Tokyo.

He’ll just be behind a microphone.

NBC announced the addition of Phelps to their Tokyo coverage, where he’ll serve as a primetime correspondent and also call some swimming events as an analyst as part of NBC’s longtime swimming booth of Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines.

From NBC’s release:

“From the moment he joined our team at Trials, Michael’s ability to provide insightful analysis, thoughtful commentary and tell entertaining stories was apparent,” said Molly Solomon, Executive Producer & President, NBC Olympics Production. “We’re thrilled to have him join us in Tokyo and our audience will benefit from hearing the perspective of the most decorated Olympian of all time.”

Phelps competed in five Olympic Games from 2000-16 and holds the world record in the 400m individual medley. He is also the subject of the Peacock Original Series, Michael Phelps: Medals, Memories & More, a three-part, NBC Sports-produced retrospective on his historic career. 

As NBC noted, this isn’t the first time Phelps has called swimming, with his work at national team trials likely serving as a it of a feeling-out process for both sides. It’s certainly a win for NBC; we have to go back to Atlanta in 1996 for a Summer Olympics that hasn’t featured Phelps in at least some way, and he’s been one of the network’s centerpiece athletes in terms of structuring their narratives for a long time now. (Side note: he’s just turned 36 a few weeks ago. How is that possible?)

For NBC’s Olympic audience, Phelps is as big of a draw as they could hope to add as an analyst and correspondent. He’s also obviously qualified to talk about swimming, and slotting him alongside Hicks and Gaines should afford him the opportunity to pick his spots and not have to carry an entire hour of color commentary.

Swimming events are scheduled to start this weekend.

[NBC]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.