"Welcome to NBC's primetime coverage on this Monday, I'm Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira."
With that opening one-liner, a bleary-eyed Bob Costas made his return to Olympics coverage after a six-day absence from an eye infection that left him unable to see in bright light.
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Lauer and Vieira, of course, had been sitting in for Costas on NBC's primetime coverage of the Winter Games in Sochi while Costas recovered from the ailment. Lauer filled-in for three nights, doing double-duty with his Today responsibilities. When he hosted last Tuesday, it was the first time Costas hadn't been in NBC's primetime Olympic chair since 1988.
Vieira, Lauer's former co-host on Today, took over the weekend shift and became the first female to serve as the solo host of Olympic primetime coverage. On Sunday, Lauer returned for one more night, before handing the reins back to Costas on Monday, exactly one week after his last appearance from Sochi.
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A red-eyed Costas made his Sochi debut on the opening Thursday of the Games, immediately explaining that an infection in his left eye would force him to wear cartoonish glasses. He said he hoped it wouldn't be an issue. But the infection spread over the weekend and by Monday night Costas, with his red and squinty eyes, was struggling during the telecast. He stepped aside the next night.
Those eyes were noticeably healthier upon his return, though the glasses and a slight redness still remained.
"I'm not 100%, that's for sure," Costas said on Monday's edition of Today, "but if I waited until I was 100%, the Olympics would be over."
After delivering his opening joke, Costas previewed the night's coverage on NBC, but briefly returned to the subject of his absence. He apologized to viewers for his "ill-timed affliction getting in the way" of the Olympics and expressed thanks to Lauer and Vieira, "two friends and true pros."
And then the Games began, again.