If you were watching the Canadian broadcast of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies Friday morning, you might have missed some rather interesting comments made by Katie Couric on NBC. The seasoned broadcaster could have used a good fact-check before she told the American public about the Netherlands’ favourite form of transportation while their athletes walked in during the Parade of Nations. According to Couric, the Dutch are uniquely talented at speed skating in the Winter Olympics because that’s how they get around in cities like Amsterdam.
“It’s probably not a newsflash to tell you that the Dutch are really good at speed skating,” she began as the orange-clad team entered the stadium, “All but five of their 110 medals they’ve won have been on the speed skating oval. Skating is an important mode of transportation in a city like Amsterdam, which sits at sea-level.
“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.”
Wow, that’s certainly a fun fact. Except it’s not a fact. The people of the Netherlands were quick to pick up on the weirdness and point out that skating isn’t their main form of transportation. They have planes, trains and automobiles, just like the Americans do!
@katiecouric @NBCSports No, the people in The Netherlands don’t skate to work or any place else. They drive, ride their bikes, use public transit or walk. Who gathered these facts for you? What’s next, for Summer Olympics you say they swim to work in the canals?#NBColympics pic.twitter.com/ETpj8CnVC7
— Jos Duijvestein 🇳🇱 (@JosDuijvestein) February 10, 2018
Dear @katiecouric we don’t get from A to B in the Netherlands by ice skating, thats nonsense and frankly it makes you look a little dumb by saying we do, it’s a sport, not a way of commuting
— Barbara Gravesteijn (@Fashiontweet) February 11, 2018
My absolute favorite #Olympics story of the day is Katie Couric just making shit up about the Netherlands and the Dutch being like, “Nah girl, don’t know where you got that info.”
— Justin Kirkland (@justinkirkland4) February 14, 2018
A lot of people were good-humoured about the whole thing and made a few jokes at Couric’s expense. As is their right as the latest nation to fall victim to North American bias.
Rush Hour in the Netherlands. pic.twitter.com/RRpDBV9pDX
— DirkJanMoedt (@moedtdj) February 11, 2018
— Steve (@StevenCJones2) February 13, 2018
— Digital-Traveler (@digital_trav) February 13, 2018
Be careful, it’s slippery out there! pic.twitter.com/soQAAiCECz
— OndeRob (@OndeRobb) February 11, 2018
Other countries got in on the joke too. We all know that dog sled is the most common form of transportation in Canada, but did you know that Australians really do ride kangaroos to work?
We in Australia all use the Uber Kangaroo service to get from A to B. Skippy managed to get me across town by leaping single buildings in one bound the other day.
— Sash Dordevic (@bks8472) February 11, 2018
Yes and here in Canada we take the dog sled from our igloo home to our igloo office.
— Jos Duijvestein 🇳🇱 (@JosDuijvestein) February 11, 2018
Exactly! This is also why the British team does so well at cycling in the Olympics; it’s a little known fact that we all travel everywhere by Penny Farthing. pic.twitter.com/pvEFhg6iC1
— 👑Princess Anna 🇪🇺❄ (@mrsspanner) February 11, 2018
The Netherlands Embassy in the U.S. took it upon themselves to extend an invitation to Couric to show her “all the innovative ways the Dutch get around” and visit some of the skating rinks. They also shared an article that claims the Netherlands is “single-handedly inventing the future of transportation” with their ingenious new types of public, green and ride-share transportation technology. The Netherlands might even be the location Elon Musk picks as the research base for his SpaceX Hyperloop.
Hi @katiecouric, please come visit the Netherlands. We’d love to show you all the innovative ways the Dutch get around 🚴🚘⚡🚊🚄🛥, & are building the future of transportation. Of course, we can also visit our famous skating rinks. Let’s break the ice! https://t.co/6COFp0jlxh
— Netherlands Embassy 🇺🇸 (@NLintheUSA) February 12, 2018
Couric responded to the embassy’s invitation by congratulating them on their medal count (yes, all 11 are in speed skating) and lightheartedly apologizing for her comments with an ice pun. She explained she was “trying to salute [their] historical passion for the sport but it didn’t come out that way.”
Congrats #Netherlands on your 🥇count so far! My apologies for being on thin ice for my comments re: skating on canals. I was trying to salute your historical passion for the sport but it didn’t come out that way! I’d ❤ to visit again & celebrate your success! 🇳🇱 https://t.co/NvYi7LwB2V
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) February 12, 2018
We’re just glad everyone was good-natured about this and took it as a learning opportunity. It’s the Olympics, after all.