‘The Amazing Race’ returns after Covid roadblock

“The Amazing Race” had actually finished shooting 3 episodes of a brand-new season when the world came to a stop over coronavirus issues in March 2020.

It took more than a year and a half for the program’s manufacturers and the network, CBS, to make security procedures and plans to complete what they began in the face of unmatched scenarios.

However like the entrants who race worldwide for a possibility to win $1 million, “The Amazing Race” manufacturers were up for the difficulty.

Listed below, host Phil Keoghan opens listed below about how they did it and what it suggests to race worldwide after a world-changing occasion.

This interview has actually been modified for clearness and condensed.

CNN: After a really long break for both fans and the entrants, just how much of a relief was it to be able to bring ‘The Incredible Race’ back?

PHIL KEOGHAN: “It was quite emotional coming back. It was emotional suspending the race because of the disappointment that I could see in the eyes of the cast, knowing the sacrifices that they had all made to be there. And so to have to tell them, ‘Look, I’m really sorry. We’ve heard about this virus called Covid-19 and because of your safety and because it’s our number one priority, we’re going to be suspending the race.’ It was heartbreaking. And then I never predicted that it would take as long as it did to restart. No one really knew what was going to happen, of course. It’s easy, in hindsight, to say, ‘Well, yeah, of course, we had to stop the race.’ At the time, you could understand that there were some doubt with some cast members wondering, ‘Was this, is this absolutely necessary?’ So there were a lot of emotions, and we felt that we were doing the right thing.

So coming back and seeing everybody’s faces again, it felt like it was yesterday, but then it also felt surreal. I, for one, was also feeling a little anxious because [I wanted to] get through this and get everybody through the race and get everybody home. The idea that we would have to suspend the race a second time was certainly on my mind. I felt very confident that we could do it successfully, but it was definitely in the back of my mind, like, ‘Oh my God, please, let’s get this done right.’ It was also quite heartfelt just hearing everybody’s stories — hearing about relatives that had been lost and jobs that had been lost and how their lives had changed. Nobody’s life is the same again. It was mixed emotions, for sure.”

Existed ever a point throughout that extended break that you believed the program would not have the ability to return duration?

“No, I never felt like we wouldn’t be able to come back. Having produced ‘Tough As Nails,’ one of the first shows to go back into production after the pandemic shut everything down, six months after the pandemic hit, we went through all of the challenges of bringing a production back and putting a return to work policy back together. We were able to do it successfully. So I knew we’d be able to do it with ‘Race,’ but of course, with ‘Race,’ there’s the added challenge of not just doing it in one location, it’s the transition from one location to the other. That’s where the risk factor is.

A lot of fans have said, during that time, ‘Well, why didn’t you just do ‘The Amazing Race’ in America? Do it without going overseas.’ But, again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling 500 miles or 5,000 miles, it’s the transportation of moving from one safe environment to another safe environment. And, quite frankly, the risk in America and a lot of states was higher than the risk in a lot of countries around the world. In putting a new course together, part of the consideration was what countries have a lower risk and where can we take people where there is a lower risk. Those are all key factors. I felt very confident standing there that we were gonna be able to pull it off.”

Racers Akbar and Sheri Cook from Season 33 of 'The Amazing Race.'

I marvel there were calls to do it in America just considering that ‘The Incredible Race’ is a lot about the gratitude of other cultures and other locations. Since of this pandemic and the capability to move easily being removed so unexpectedly, do you feel a higher gratitude for what this program was doing from the start? How did it feel sort of returning into that world and understanding, ‘We’re going to get a possibility to reveal individuals things once again that they have not seen in 2 years?’

“Well, I think your question is very perceptive because I think we’ve become more aware of what it means to be global through this pandemic. Because what we realize is that we are all living on this rock that’s floating through space and something like Covid can affect all corners of the Earth. And we are all breathing the same air. We’re all living in the same atmosphere. Everything that we do affects everybody else everywhere on the planet. And certainly Covid did. So I feel like in a way, our show is more relevant now in 2021/22 than it was even when we started the race.”

I understand among the post-Covid modifications included chartering an airplane for production. However in regards to interaction with the residents, existed procedures that made it possible for the racers to do that securely or were y’all not enabled to communicate with the residents as much?

“Yeah, we still were able to. I think there’s no mystery to the way that we followed protocol. It’s a little bit like the way that we interact in the world. Now, you don’t necessarily shake the hand of a stranger or hug strangers. I mean, that’s why it’s so sort of jarring to see the first few episodes, because it’s the Covid-free world, and then you juxtapose that with this other world. I think people are going to see that you can still be in public places and have safe distancing. But we’re also used to now — adjustments that we’ve all had to make.

We still gather, but we know that it’s safer to gather outside than it is to gather inside. What you won’t see is you’re not gonna see ‘Amazing Race’-ers crowded together with thousands of people in a confined space. We’ve had that before where people have been running in the streets of, say, India, and there’s been an elephant procession. I remember that one particular situation on ‘Race.’ You’re not gonna see that because, again, it is in an uncontrolled environment. But I think for the most part, people will realize it’s the ‘Race’ that they’ve come to love with a few adjustments that we’ve all been making.”

Well, considering that you got to live that personal jet life with the cast, I’ve been believing: Do you believe some like race followers are gonna state these entrants had it too simple? They didn’t need to deal with the airplane tickets and the tension of taxis which example. At the end of all of it, are these going to be legitimate winners or are fans going to put an asterisk on them?

“Oh, no, no it’ll be legit. But also, you have to realize, um, there’s pros and cons to both, right? In a regular race, you’ve got more access to go into places and to interact with people to get more information. But the playing field is even. Driving a stick shift, if you don’t know how to drive a stick shift, it is still challenging for people. We did have some public transportation. We just knew that the drivers were Covid-free. There’s still hustling for vehicles. You can’t get rid of the stress of learning how to read a map and getting lost. There’s plenty of that. So, no, there won’t be any asterisks. It’s the race as we know it and we love it. You’re gonna see that it’s a different world, the world that we all know, so it’s not a surprise. It’s just a different world.”

“The Amazing Race” premieres Jan. 5 on CBS.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.