Why didn’t Akram Khan’s Olympic dance piece air on NBC?

Friday night approximately 1 billion people tuned in or attended the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics. In the U.S., viewers were able to catch the four hour event on NBC.

All except for one rather important moment.


Photo: Associated Press

NBC chose to cut away from the opening ceremonies for a pre-taped interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps just as choreographer Akram Khan was performing his tribute to the 52 victims of the July 2005 London bomb attacks. The attacks happened the day after London was awarded the Olympics.

“I feel disheartened and disappointed,” Khan said in a subsequent press conference.

“I was really shocked and horrified and would like to know on what grounds the American media can make that decision.”

“I am really sad that I couldn’t show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don’t think it’s any less or more than any of the other pieces,” Khan went on to say.

“Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough? It brings to mind a question that maybe it’s too truthful, and I think that says it all really.”

NBC issued a statement over the weekend in which it said that stated editing decisions such as this are routinely made for pre-recorded entertainment.