NBC believes it's doing a bang-up job hosting the Olympic Winter Games television broadcast, but in less than two days of coverage, its anchors have already insulted at least two countries.
First, an NBC "Asia correspondent" suggested that Korea was grateful for the presence of Japan's Olympic delegation, after all Japan had given them (it turns out, the Japanese took more than 200,000 Korean women hostage before World War II to work as "comfort women" for Japanese men). Now, Katie Couric has managed to insult The Netherlands with her quaint, anachronistic (and kind of racist) explanation of the Dutch commute.
While watching the Dutch national team — mostly speed skaters — enter the arena opening night, Couric quipped happily, "'why are they so good,' you may be asking yourselves? Because skating is an important mode of transportation in a city like Amsterdam.”
"As you all know, it has lots of canals that can freeze in the winter. So for as long as those canals have existed, the Dutch have skated on them to get from place to place, to race each other and also to have fun," she continued.
Obviously, she was reading from a prepared statement, clearly written by someone whose only familiarity with the Netherlands is from a single reading of the Little Dutch Boy sometime in the mid-to-late 1940s. The Dutch do not skate to work (perhaps at the tulip factory? in the windmills? making cheese?) on frozen-over canals because The Netherlands is actually a fairly large country where the canals only get cold enough to freeze an average of five days per year.
Twitter was, yet again, merciless.
Rush Hour in the Netherlands. pic.twitter.com/RRpDBV9pDX— DirkJanMoedt (@moedtdj) February 11, 2018
This is true, this is me skating to work at the cheese factory last friday pic.twitter.com/otHRmDSeys— Thomas Hogeling (@ThomasHogeling) February 11, 2018
Indeed! This is the typical morning commute for the windmill workers in Amsterdam pic.twitter.com/Y15HX3gzGx— Steven Ottens (@stvno) February 11, 2018
Traffic information.— OndeRob (@OndeRobb) February 11, 2018
Be careful, it’s slippery out there! pic.twitter.com/soQAAiCECz
Fortunately, the Dutch weren't as deeply insulted as the Koreans, so NBC did not have to issue a blanket, personal apology.
It is true that, historically, the Dutch skated on their frozen canals as a way of getting around in the winter, but that's not really true anymore (they do love to bike places, though). For the record, though, the Dutch love for speed skating actually has more to do with past success and excellent timing than frozen canals. The first year Olympic speed skating was televised, two Dutch speed skaters dominated the medal podium, leading to speed skating becoming a national obsession.
The Dutch now have eight Olympic training clubs and 22 long track ice rinks, according to Mental Floss. By comparison, the United States only has six Olympic training clubs, and they serve the entire country.