Is NBC purposefully downplaying references to China in Olympics promos?

Some sharp eyed viewers have noted that NBC’s promotional materials for the upcoming 2022 Olympics in Beijing appear to be putting more focus on the words “Winter Olympics” over the host city and country — but what does the past show about this approach?

Many are noting the shift could be noteworthy because the United States government said it will not send any diplomatic envoy to the games, as is traditional, this year, in response to alleged human rights violations in the country.

There has also been notable backlash against Asia and Asian Americas in wake of the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated from China.

Like always, NBC designed its own distinct logo to be used in conjunction with the Beijing games, one that is notably distinct from the official host city’s logo and typically seen mostly by American TV audiences. Other broadcast rights holders often design their own logos as well.

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The logo features a large, prominent custom drawn rendition of the the word “Beijing” set below mountains, a common graphical theme for Winter Olympics logos on NBC. 

In the past, NBC tends to make Summer Olympics logos contain more direct references to the host city or country, either through obvious iconography or more subtle stylistic choices, though the 2016 Rio Janeiro and 2020 Tokyo Summer games both eschewed this to some degree and instead opted to channel the general look and feel of the host city rather than direct, more obvious iconography. 

Conversely, Winter Olympics logos have included a mountainscape going back to at least 2002. While there is some attempt to shape the mountains like those in the locales, it’s not necessarily something most people would notice. 

Meanwhile, NBC has been gearing up with more and more Olympics promos airing on NBC, Peacock, USA Network, E!, MSNBC, CNBC and its other properties.

Most of these promos do indeed seem to shy away from using the Beijing logo in a prominent location — instead relegating it to the corner of the screen in many cases.

The dominant element in many of these graphics are “typed out” headlines such as “The Winter Olympics,” using what appears to be the font Zuume Cut Bold Italic

A look back at past winter games promo show that PyeongChang in 2018 used a similar approach — emphasizing the “Winter Olympics” text over the logo containing the city name (arguably, however, the city of PyeongChang is much less well known worldwide than Beijing). Sochi tended to use a mix of both the shield logo with city name and references to just “Winter Olympics” as well.

Conversely, there are also past examples of promotional materials that referenced the “Summer Olympics” in larger, more prominent layouts, with the NBC logo referencing the host city smaller. 

It’s also worth noting that there hasn’t been an example of a mainstream promo for Beijing 2022 completely eliminating any references to the host city.

The actual content of the promos, meanwhile, do tend to focus more on U.S. athletes and Team USA, but this is not at all uncommon when looking back at past Olympics promos and given that they are promoting broadcasts on an American network.

In 2008, when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics, NBC logo sported a look that contained architectural references to the city and country, but, again, that appears to be more common for the network to use during summer games.

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