Bob Costas handed over the Olympic coverage to Today’s Matt Lauer again Wednesday night after taking Tuesday night off due to an eye infection.

Bob Costas Suffers Eye Infection

Costas, NBC’s Olympic coverage anchor has been battling an eye infection since his reporting began on Feb. 6. The infection caused him to forgo contacts in favor of glasses, causing a media buzz about Costas’ new look, not to mention his red left eye. Costas’ eye infection quickly became a top Olympic story, taking over Twitter and inspiring parodies and memes.

Costas had hoped that his eye infection would slowly subside, but things only got worse as the week wore on. On Monday, Feb. 10, Costas embraced his red eyes, allowing himself a glass of Russian vodka on air during a segment with NBC analyst Mary Carillo.

“I’m not really that much of a vodka guy…I’m looking at it this way, though. My eyes can’t get any redder, no matter what I do,” he joked before taking a swig.

Costas Hands Primetime Sochi Coverage To Matt Lauer

While NBC doctors had predicted the eye infection to clear up on its own over the weekend, on Tuesday, Costas announced that his eye infection had spread to his right eye. His eyes are both red and swollen, blurring his vision and making it impossible for him to go on the air.

Costas calls into the Today show and passed the job over to Lauer, saying, “Reluctantly, I was trying to throw a complete game here, but I think we’re going to have to go to the bullpen, and I don’t know if you’re [Lauer] aware of this or not, but you’re Mariano Rivera, at least tonight.”

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“I’m walking around, I might as well be playing ‘Marco Polo.’ I have no idea where I am,” Costas told Lauer.

Today co-anchors wished him a speedy recovery, and Lauer later said that he knows Costas’ decision to step aside was a very difficult one to make. Costas has been covering the Olympics in primetime since 1992 and this is the first time he has had to step down.

“I just feel bad for him. He looks forward to these Games for so long, and he’s the best that’s ever done it. If he could be in that seat, he’d be in that seat,” Lauer told

Costas had hoped that he would only need one extra day to recover, but on Wednesday morning, he called into Today once more to inform viewers that Lauer would be taking over the primetime broadcast. Costas explained that he felt well enough to go into work, but his vision is still incredibly blurry and sensitive, making it impossible:

“Actually, I don’t feel that bad, and the irony of it is, we’ve all felt worse than I feel right now and gone into work…but in this case it’s just involuntary. It’s an eye infection, and my eyes are so blurry and watery and become so light-sensitive that even in dim light they’re constantly tearing up.”

Both Lauer and Costas have kept their sense of humor throughout the stressful ordeal. In a statement issued by NBC on Tuesday, Costas joked that “the last thing I want is to go through the rest of my life owing Matt Lauer a bunch of favors.” Lauer returned the favor Wednesday, joking about being called in as a sub, saying, “I had to go in early, not to practice my lines, but to Lysol your whole dressing room.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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