TODAY host Matt Lauer will fill in for Bob Costas during NBC’s Olympics Primtime show tonight. Costas has been struggling with an infection in his left eye, which has now spread to his right. He joked about it on Monday night as he toasted the evening with Mary Carillo by downing a shot of vodka. “I’m not really that much of a vodka guy,” he said. “I’m looking at it this way, though. My eyes can’t get any redder, no matter what I do.”
In a live call to Lauer on this morning’s TODAY, Costas said he hoped he could return after one night off, but wasn’t sure. “Let’s hope it’s only tonight. I’m walking around, I might as well be playing ‘Marco Polo.’ I have no idea where I am.” Costas gave Lauer vital information for his pinch-hitting duty – the names of Russian pairs figure skaters Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov – before signing off. Lauer said he’d start prepping right away.
Here’s a complete statement from Costas:
“It was becoming increasingly noticeable and uncomfortable, but if it was just that, I would have continued. We in broadcasting are lucky to have the jobs we do, and at one time or another, we’ve all gone on the air feeling less than our best.
“The difference is that last night and into this morning, it got to the point where, as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.
“If it was just discomfort, I’d be there. I’m receiving excellent treatment…it’s a viral infection, and all you can do is try to manage the symptoms while the virus runs its course. But I’m hopeful that those symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast.
“Also, the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.”