While the 2022 Beijing Olympics are still going ahead (for now) despite the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and despite prominent athlete groups like the NHLPA pulling out, there are still a lot of questions about what participation means for athletes and commentators. Some potential commentators like ESPN’s Ray Ferraro have already said they won’t attend, with factors like an Olympic bubble and a potential five-week forced quarantine in China after a positive test playing into that. NBC’s Tara Lipinski, a former figure skater who’s turned into a notable NBC commentator on a variety of events, had some interesting thoughts on that in a conversation with fubo Sports Network’s Julie Stewart-Binks this week (with the full conversation set to air on fubo Sports Network Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT). Here’s Lipinski talking to Stewart-Binks about what this is like for athletes, and also what it’s like for her in quarantining ahead of U.S. figure skating nationals and then the Olympics:
"I would feel very nervous," former Olympic figure skating gold medallist @taralipinski tells me about how she'd feel heading to #Beijing2022 as an athlete. "Maybe even worried about getting there," as a positive test could negate an Olympic dream. #DrinkswithBinks on @fuboSports pic.twitter.com/1ktbrh038D
— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_TV) January 5, 2022
There are some notable comments there, starting with Stewart-Binks asking Lipinski about how she would feel if she was an athlete competing in these Olympics, and with Lipinski’s response:
“I mean, I would feel very nervous. I mean, obviously, it’s going to be a very different type of an Olympics. There’s probably a little sadness in that for the athletes. You never know how many more Olympics that you’ll get. And beyond that, it’s even being worried about getting there, as you mentioned, because I have holed myself up in this house. If I test positive, I can’t go to nationals, I can’t go to the Olympics. But imagine what’s at stake for these athletes that have worked their whole life for this moment. And now, with a variant that is so extremely contagious, how do you know? You test, and it’s positive, and you can’t go.”
These comments are significant on a couple of fronts. For one, it’s interesting to hear Lipinski talking about the precautions she’s taking in order to preserve her role as an Olympic commentator, both for pre-Olympic nationals and then for the Games themselves. It’s also notable to hear her thoughts on how all of the testing and quarantine requirements here impact athletes. And that’s likely to be a large part of these Games. We’ll see how all the testing and other COVID-19 protocols go, but Lipinski’s comments here are interesting for showing off how much everyone involved (as both athletes and commentators) is already thinking about this.
[Julie Stewart-Binks on Twitter]