7:00am PT by Hilary Lewis
Sochi: Returning Host Bob Costas Says, 'If I Waited Until I Was 100 Percent, the Olympics Would Be Over' (Video)
Bob Costas may not be completely over his eye infection, but he's well enough to return to hosting NBC's primetime Olympics coverage Monday evening.
"I'm not 100 percent, that's for sure, but if I waited until I was 100 percent, the Olympics would be over,'' he said when he called in to Monday's Today. "So if the audience can put up with still a little bit of red eyes hiding behind the glasses, then I can put up with it for the next week, too."
Costas' planned return was revealed by NBC Sports PR, which tweeted on Sunday that the veteran sportscaster had returned to the NBC Olympics studios to prepare to resume his hosting duties Monday night.
Bob Costas returned to NBC Olympics studios at IBC in Sochi 2day to prep 2 resume hosting duties Monday night (Feb17) pic.twitter.com/bLgKoHUlP5— NBCSportsPR (@NBCSportsPR) February 16, 2014
Costas has been sidelined by an eye infection that spread to both eyes and made it hard for him to see or even be in the studio, indicating that the bright lights were exacerbating his condition. Matt Lauer filled in for Costas for three nights in a row starting this past Tuesday, and on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, Meredith Vieira took over the primetime hosting duties.
Although Costas was in the studio Sunday, Lauer still had to serve as host.
"Bob was actually at the set last night, and I looked at him there and I thought, 'Wait a minute. You're well enough to come into the set, but I'm still doing the show?' I don't get this,'' Lauer joked on Today. "But he does look much better. A little bit still irritated. The crew, everybody over there, is begging to have [Costas] back, so that's the best news we've had all week."
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Costas said he was grateful to Lauer and Vieira for filling in, but he was aware of how indebted he is to Lauer.
"I'm glad to be back, and I want to thank Matt and Meredith for doing such a good job in filling in,'' Costas told Today. "I really feel bad, especially [for] Matt. Meredith was twiddling her thumbs a little bit, let's be honest, but Matt was doing double duty. Back and forth to the mountains and an hour's sleep, and now he holds so many chips on me on his side of the table. I owe him so many favors. That's the worst part of the whole thing."
Lauer indicated on Friday that having to co-host Today and anchor NBC's primetime Olympics coverage was taking a toll on him.
Also on Friday, Olympics executive producer Jim Bell told reporters that Costas' condition was not clearing up as quickly as expected and that he couldn't predict when the sportscaster would return.
Watch video of Costas' call in to Today on Monday below.