Winter Olympics

Heading to the 2022 Winter Olympics – This Time, in the Middle of a Pandemic

NBC 7's Steven Luke is headed to Beijing, China to report on the 2022 Winter Olympics from February 4th through the 20th.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke stands at the train station in Solana Beach, Jan. 27,2022.

Saturday, January 29:

This Olympics is kind of catching all of us by surprise. “Weren’t you just in Tokyo???” people ask. Feels that way. There’s also the fact they’re being held in China, a country which brings up all kinds of feelings for people around the globe.

We’re running into these games under the draining backdrop of Omicron and into an Olympics with even stricter protocols than Tokyo, which will limit our ability to move around outside the “Olympic bubble.” I will be in a modified quarantine the entire time. I’m basically going to be restricted to my hotel, the International Broadcast Center, and Olympic venues with specific media busses shuttling us to and from. No walks outside the hotel, or coffee runs, or eating at a local restaurant the entire time. The restrictions and fear of testing positive in China (which has already happened to NBC folks who get plucked from the hotel and sent to a “COVID motel”) has led to a lot of journalists backing out. A lot of NBC stations around the country have decided the risk is not worth the reward. Credit to my bosses at NBC San Diego who told me they would support my decision to stay or go.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke holds papers ready to head to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Jan. 27, 2022.
Steven Luke
NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke holds papers ready to head to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Jan. 27, 2022.

My thoughts have never wavered on whether I should go, but if I’m being honest my attitude towards these games up to this point has been less than positive. People ask “How are you feeling?” and I say “Well, it’s going to be interesting, not sure if it will be all that fun, but hopefully I don’t end up in ‘COVID jail’ – aka the COVID motel.”

I'm thinking about all of the amazing Olympics I've had the chance to cover, and realizing this won’t be the same. The fact is, we’re all going on two years of dealing with pandemic heaviness which can make it tough to flip the script in our brains from negativity to positivity in a lot of areas.

This week when I heard about my old high school classmate passing away, it hit me that having negative thoughts about covering the Olympics is just plain silly.

This is an incredible opportunity and I’m gifted with the ability to share it with anyone who will listen or watch. Sharing my journey is actually my job, so hopefully I do it well! 😊 Who knows how many minutes we’ll all have here on earth, but we’ve spent a lot of time worrying about them over the past two years.

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Life is about more than minutes, it’s about moments. When we die our family may mourn the lost minutes, but they’ll cherish the moments. I’m flipping the script right now on this trip and excited for the unknown moments ahead. I’m done mourning the Olympics of old (although I do hope those experiences return for Paris 2024) and I’m instead hopeful for some unique Winter Olympic moments in China. Yes, I’ll be masked up the entire time and seeing Beijing through the window of a bus, but it sure beats covering the Olympics from a desk in San Diego.

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