Bob Costas's Olympic quarantine is almost at an end. NBC has confirmed reports that Costas will be back in the chair for Monday night's primetime broadcast after a six-day absence because of an eye infection that left him unable to see in bright light. Costas first revealed his eye troubles during the opening night of Olympic coverage on Thurs., Feb. 6. He hosted five nights for NBC before the infection spread to both eyes and rendered him unable to perform his hosting duties.
When Matt Lauer took over on Tuesday night, it was the first time anyone but Costas had helmed an Olympic primetime telecast on any American network since 1998. Costas had been at the NBC chair for every night of Olympic coverage since 1988.
With Lauer running double duty on Today – he was on NBC for 30 of 61 hours at one point – the host took a well-deserved break after three nights "out of the bullpen," as Costas had put it. Lauer's former Today co-host, Meredith Vieira, helmed the Friday and Saturday broadcasts, making her the first woman to ever serve as the solo host for primetime Olympic coverage. (As noted by Deadline.com, Vieira also has an NBC-owned syndicated talk show debuting in the fall. "The Sochi exposure is a gift," Lisa De Moraes wrote.)
Lauer and Vieira were fine in fill-in duty, most notably with their interviewing skills honed from years at the chat-heavy Today. Still, it was hard not to miss Costas, who is as much an Olympic fixture as medals and anthems.
For Costas to match his old hosting streak, he'd have to work every night of the Olympics until the 2032 Summer Games.