Leigh Diffey

If it’s a race, Leigh Diffey is ready to call it.

This week, the lead broadcaster of NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on NBC will help the network televise the Winter Olympics in Beijing. This will be the third such Games for Diffey, who will again describe the action of bobsled, luge and skeleton, three of the most thrilling disciplines in this multi-sport global extravaganza held every four years.

This will be Diffey’s fifth Olympics, including Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro (2016) and Tokyo (2020) along with Winter Games in Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang (2018). The assignment is part of his NBC schedule in 2022 that has him working the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Supercross, IMSA sports car racing and track and field events. The Australian-born broadcaster called the Rolex 24 At Daytona last weekend.

Diffey said there are similarities between the spectrum of assignments.

“At the end of the day, I’m calling a race,” he said. “Sure, there are differences in terms of time, distance, speed --- that type of thing. But I’m calling a race and telling human-interest stories of the athletes competing in these races.”

Different for these Games will be Diffey’s proximity and access to the athletes. Due to global health precautions, Diffey will be part of NBC Sports’ staff working from its corporate headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Diffey’s events will have a reporter in Beijing – it will be his track and field partner, former standout 800-meter runner Lewis Johnson – but that’s it from an on-air standpoint.

Diffey said the arrangement reminds him of calling INDYCAR’s virtual races during the pandemic. That means less interaction with the athletes and more long-distance communication with them. Primarily, the latter will come in the form of texts and virtual calls.

“I’ll miss the ambience of being there,” Diffey said, noting how the broadcast location for these events is usually next to the track. “You can hear and feel the four-man bobsled rattling down the hill. This (setup) drives you to do things differently, to be more a little more creative. You have to be clever.

“But once you get into the mode of calling the action, it’s kind of the same (job).”

NBC Sports will have more than 2,800 hours of coverage on its outlets, including NBC, USA Network, CNBC and the Peacock streaming service. There will be 18 nights of primetime action, beginning with Thursday’s “Night Before the Opening Ceremony.”

Diffey’s first airing is Saturday with the men’s luge. Due to the 13-hour time difference, he will have broadcasts that begin at 7 a.m. (ET) and others that end at 11 p.m. Final runs of bobsled are Saturday, Feb. 19, the day before the closing ceremony.

Diffey will have a short turnaround after the Games. The first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race of the season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, opens with practice Friday, Feb. 25. The broadcast of the season-opening race on NBC and Telemundo begins at noon (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 27.