How ‘The Amazing Race’ Filmed Globally During A Pandemic

News, Reality TV
Nick Davis

COVID-19 has added a new layer of complexity and anxiety to world travel. In the Spring of 2020, numerous tourists from all around the world had to evacuate countries or became trapped abroad as the world shut down.  The Amazing Race was in the middle of filming their 33rd season when all of this began. They had to shut down after the 3rd leg, and were unable to continue until the fall of this year. For a show centered around traversing the entire world in only 2 weeks, the uncertainty this pandemic has created with the world’s borders seems as though it could be a death sentence for the 20-year-old show.

Nonetheless, The Amazing Race did manage to finish Season 33. Recently the show’s long-time host and executive producer Phil Keoghan did an interview on Rob Has A Podcast. The reality competition-focused podcast, hosted by Survivor alumni Rob Cesternino, went in-depth with Phil on the challenges and finer details of finishing a season nearly ended by the unforeseen world quarantines.

Coronavirus & ‘The Amazing Race’

“It is not easy to take a show like The Amazing Race back out into the world. We’ve had our challenges but I’m pleased to say that we’ve done it safely,” Phil said on the podcast.

This will be the first time in the show’s history that the race wasn’t finished within a month. Instead, there will be over a year between the first and final leg of this season. The production team had to go to great lengths to achieve this. Right now, every country in the world has different regulations regarding COVID-19 for entry. Some require a negative COVID test, some require proof of COVID vaccination, and some require a 3-10 day quarantine upon arrival. For a race that relies on speed and brevity, these kinds of roadblocks are not the type of roadblocks they’d prefer.

A shot from Episode 1 of Season 33. Days before the lockdowns began. Pictured L-R: Akbar and Sheri Cook Photo: Michele Crowe/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

How They Pulled It Off

One of the primary changes to the show to meet COVID safety precautions was how the contestants flew. Phil confirmed on the podcast that this will be the first season of the show where the teams will fly between countries on a private plane rather than the commercial flights utilized in the past.

This is a very drastic change over how the show has functioned in the past. It’s sure to be controversial amongst fans who prefer the potential for interesting situations that come from traveling publicly. It’s not the first time the show has changed the way they travel due to the times, however.

Many long-time fans will remember an era of the show that relied heavily on travel agents. This was phased out as travel agents were gradually replaced with the far-more convenient travel-booking apps. The fact is The Amazing Race is a show that must constantly adapt to the way the world changes, and this new era is another result of that.

The Amazing Race returns with Episode 1 of Season 33 on January 5th, 2022.

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