Published July 30, 2012
Olympics broadcaster NBC is taking heat for its decision not to air a musical tribute to the victims of a 2005 terrorist attack as part of its coverage of the games.
The Peacock Network cut Londoner Akram Khan's segment from the network's opening ceremony show, instead airing "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest's interview of champion swimmer Michael Phelps.
"I feel disheartened and disappointed," Khan said on Saturday.
The segment paid tribute to the victims of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings of London Underground trains and a double-decker bus that killed 52 innocent victims and four homicide bombers.
The segment was part of an opening ceremony put together by "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle and watched by an estimated 1 billion people around the world. The ceremony celebrated British history and culture.
Khan said on his website that he was asked by Boyle to design a prominent section of the opening ceremony around the theme "mortality." The piece he designed featured 50 dancers, a 9-year-old boy and himself. It was set to the song "Abide With Me."
NBC's Bob Costas was among those expressing outrage when Olympics organizers declined to pay tribute to the Israeli athletes who were killed at the 1972 games. But the network defended its own decision not to observe the London terror victims, saying the games and their coverage is about sports and entertainment.
'We are live streaming every sporting event, all 32 sports and all 302 medals… The opening and closing ceremonies, however, are entertainment spectacles," the network said in a statement. "Our award-winning production team will present them on a medium that best demonstrates their grandeur and majesty, and at a time when friends and family are able to gather together to watch, which is in prime time."
NBCUniversal paid $1.18 billion for the U.S. rights to the London Olympics. It could not immediately be reached for comment.