Why Savannah Guthrie Won't Cover The Rio Olympics

Another round of the Olympics is right around the corner, and people all over the world will soon be glued to their television sets to watch everything from beach volleyball to soccer. Media personalities will be flocking to Rio in Brazil for when the Games kick off in August, but Today co-host Savannah Guthrie will not be one of them. In the time since she was first slated to join the NBC press crew traveling to Brazil, Guthrie has become pregnant and will skip the Games to avoid the Zika virus.

The Zika virus presents with fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, headache, and overall discomfort. Pregnant women would undoubtedly want to avoid exposure to the virus based on these symptoms alone; the main medical concern is that exposure to Zika during pregnancy can result in a condition called microcephaly for the infant. Microcephaly results in a baby being born with a very small head or a head that stops growing after birth. It’s no wonder that Savannah Guthrie would want to avoid travel if Zika were a risk to her child. Her decision to skip Brazil due to Zika means that Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira will handle much of the coverage, according to Deadline.

Savannah Guthrie’s decision must have been made much easier given the outbreak of Zika in Brazil since May of last year. The virus can be transmitted via mosquito bites, and anybody who has stepped outdoors in the summer will know that it’s never possible to 100% avoid mosquitoes. The Rio Games would have been Guthrie’s third as a member of the media, but her health understandably takes precedent.

The Today co-host isn’t the only person whose concerns with Zika overwhelmed the urge to attend the Olympics this year. Cyclist Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn his name from consideration for Team USA due to his wife’s pregnancy, and athletes for both basketball and golf are planning on passing on the chance to take home an Olympic medal in 2016.

Hopefully, athletes, media, and spectators will avoid Zika complications en masse once the Games kick off. The World Health Organization has been asked to consider postponing the Games due to the public health crisis. The Summer Games are taking place in Brazil’s winter when fewer mosquitoes will be active, but 500,000 foreigners visiting runs a big international health risk that could reach well beyond the borders of Brazil.

Savannah Guthrie bowing out of attending the Olympics won’t necessarily mean that she won’t provide coverage back in the U.S. There will be no shortage of popular demand for all things Olympics, so she should have plenty to keep her busy from the safety of the studio. Besides, missing out on this year’s Olympics doesn’t mean that she won’t have more to attend in the future. NBC paid more than $7.5 billion for the rights to broadcast the Olympics through 2032.

We still have a wait ahead of us before we see how the NBC crew does without Savannah Guthrie at the 2016 Olympics, so check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch in the meantime.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.