The Amazing Race was one of the very first TV programs to close up shop when it shut down production on season 33 in late February after filming its first three episodes. Clearly, a country-hopping show based around international travel was not built for a Covid-19 world.

“Due to increased concerns and uncertainty regarding the coronavirus around the world, CBS and the producers of The Amazing Race have taken the precautionary measure of temporarily suspending production on the 33rd season of the series,” CBS said in a statement after filming halted. “All contestants and production staff are in the process of returning home. At this time, no Racers or anyone on the production team traveling with them have contracted the virus, or show symptoms, and we are not aware of anyone being exposed to it. Out of an abundance of caution, everyone involved in the show will continue to be monitored when they return home. The health and well-being of the Racers and the production team are our top priorities.”

But what now? When host Phil Keoghan called into EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) on Tuesday to chat about his new reality competition series Tough as Nails (debuting Wednesday on CBS, watch a preview here), we asked him what it was like having to indefinitely pause the race. “Yes, we were out, we were shooting season 33, and then, look, all hell broke loose and we had to come home,” says Keoghan. “It’s very frustrating.”

As for when the show may be able to pick back up, the host says the date keeps changing along with the shape of the curve. “People have asked me when we’re going to be back shooting Amazing Race,” notes Keoghan. “And all I can say is, ‘As soon as that curve goes down.’ That line that we see — which is so depressing right now — unfortunately, is an indication of not shooting/shooting. I mean, that’s all there is to it.”

Phil Keoghan
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

The host indicates that ultimately, the show’s return date all depends on how vigilant people are in working to bring down transmission rates. “We’ve got to bring that line down,” says Keoghan, “and that is going to happen by all of us collectively working together to bring it down. And the only way it’s going to come down is if we stop the transmission. And I don’t need to talk to you about how it’s transmitted. But, yeah, this is going to be a collective effort where everybody’s going to have to say, ‘Okay, I take responsibility, and it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole.’ And we can bring that number down and bring that curve down, and we’ll go out and we'll shoot more Amazing Races.”

Luckily for CBS, even though season 33 had to halt shooting after just a few episodes in and has no return date in sight, the network has another complete season in the can and ready to go. Season 32 of The Amazing Race was filmed in late 2018 and had simply been waiting for an open time slot to air. In April, CBS announced the show was returning on May 20 after the completion of Survivor: Winners at War. However, a few weeks later, the network pushed the show back again to the fall, likely as a safety net to ensure fresh programming in case other productions (like Survivor) were unable to be up and running in time.

That means season 32 will finally be airing almost two full years after it was filmed, something Keoghan made a point of acknowledging while speaking to EW Live: “First thing I want to say to all Amazing Race fans is thank you for your patience. And I also want to say thank you to the patience of the cast of season 32. People have been waiting way too long for Amazing Race to come on.”

Keoghan was also quick to point out that his hosting of a new summer show for CBS had nothing to do with the delay on his first one. “I also want to say that Tough as Nails coming on in the summer had absolutely nothing to do with Amazing Race being pushed to the fall,” says the host. “Amazing Race is a blue-chip show, it’s a go-to show. It’s got a track record, unlike Tough as Nails, which we’re throwing out there and we’ll see whether people like it or not. So mutually exclusive shows, right? One has nothing to do with another.”

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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