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Bob Costas on Olympics: ‘Anti-gay laws have increased interest in these Games'

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NBC, which will provide over 1,500 hours of coverage from Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, won’t shy away from the political issues surrounding the Sochi Olympics according to Bob Costas. In a report by USA Today Sports on Jan. 7, Costas believes the controversy over the anti-gay laws in Russia has increased the spotlight of the Games.

Certainly, there has been much protest and boycott from the gay community as well as many athletes, celebrities and political figures who are in opposition of the anti-gay laws signed in to law by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The controversy has been more than enough to bring attention to the Sochi Olympics and as Costas tells USA Today, NBC won’t shy away from the political issues and how they impact the athletes and events.

“Obviously we have our fingers crossed that nothing happens, if anything, the prospect of a terrorist event, the controversy over the anti-gay laws in an odd way have increased awareness and interest in these Games.”

Costas makes it clear that issues “won’t take the place of the competition,” but feels curiosity will increase, which will draw in viewers. But as the anti-gay law controversy as well as the threat of terrorism has been political focal points going into the Games, NBC as a network still has a responsibility. Providing awareness is a key ingredient.

Costas says:

“Framing those issues is part of the backdrop. It’s like describing the weather at a ballgame or what the crowd is like. You have to frame the circumstances under which these events are about to take place. Then you return to those issues, if and when they impact the Games.”

Like MSNBC gay news anchor Thomas Roberts, who have participated in an event in Russia despite the laws, NBC will be providing visibility to the issues. Hiding away the issues only helps propel them. Incorporating them into the Olympics as focal points may help to make a difference.

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