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Olympics 2012 Boxing: NBC Commentators Booted From Ringside, Choose to Leave London

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NBC has chosen to leave London for boxing coverage, and will have commentators record their work in New York for the final days of the tournament, following a spat with AIBA.
NBC has chosen to leave London for boxing coverage, and will have commentators record their work in New York for the final days of the tournament, following a spat with AIBA.

NBC, the American broadcaster whose coverage of this year's Olympic games has been heavily criticized in a great number of ways, were asked on Friday to have their boxing commentary team leave ringside at ExCel Arena in London, with AIBA officials saying they were bothered by the presence of the duo.

Instead, NBC chose to leave entirely, turning down space with the other media.

"NBC commentators were offered a booth in the media tribune like other broadcasters because they were very disturbing for AIBA officials - even during bouts they were not broadcasting - being located at the edge of the Field of Play," an AIBA spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

"They claimed that since no boxers from the USA were still in the running, they didn't want to stay anyway."

NBC could not immediately be reached for comment.

NBC will reportedly still have their cameramen at the arena, and Bob Papa and Teddy Atlas will record commentary in New York.

I haven't watched any of the NBC coverage since the second day of the Olympics, as frankly I found everything about their product to be vastly inferior to the UK coverage on the BBC. From the commentators to the presentation to the fact that NBC didn't air anything live on TV except for weekend bouts and had "live" streaming that was woefully behind the actual live broadcast, there was really not much for me with NBC.

Atlas, as he will be when he feels like something is wrong, has been exceptionally critical of AIBA and the officiating, and the scoring system, and pretty much everything else. He was like that even on the first two days, even when things weren't going terribly wrong. If there was a chance to take a shot at AIBA, Atlas wouldn't let it pass.

Personally, I'm not the world's biggest Teddy Atlas fan. But I also think that in this case, he was absolutely correct. The officiating has been comical at times in London, and that's on AIBA and the IOC. Atlas should absolutely be willing to scream his lungs out about that, and to try and shield the officials who might actually HEAR him, kind of says a lot to me about the decision-making here.

Like a lot of things in this field, it's sort of, "Let's hide this away and hope people don't notice for very long." That's been the handling of basically every controversy in London. We got a couple of decisions overturned, but even worse decisions weren't. We've seen fighters disqualified for nothing, obvious knockdowns not called (resulting in officials being expelled), countless scoring disasters, and fighters who have had their dreams ended not because they were bested over nine minutes, but because, well, someone either screwed up, or worse.

Now, I can't say for sure whether or not NBC chose to leave in part or entirely because there are no American fighters remaining. That wouldn't surprise me at all, given the network's almost stomach-turning reliance on only American stories outside of a phenom like Usain Bolt. It could also just be AIBA trying to make NBC look like they didn't care about boxing at all.

But I do know that Teddy Atlas, love him or hate him or whatever else you might think, cares about boxing. He wasn't shouting just to shout -- who would he be shouting to, anyway? There's not that much interest in Olympic boxing in the States. He was shouting because he thought he saw things that were wrong, and he wasn't afraid, as he never has been, to take an issue head-on if need be, right in front of an official or anyone else. I don't believe that AIBA wanted to hear it. But then AIBA doesn't seem to want to hear much besides what a great job they've done.

At this point, only PR people can make that case, and it's not very convincing.