It's official: Chris Harrison will not return for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette.
The decision comes one month after Harrison said he'd be temporarily stepping aside from the dating competition series after his defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell sparked backlash among viewers and Bachelor Nation stars.
Tonight's statement read, "Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of The Bachelorette. We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season."
Additionally, the franchise said it would be focused on "achieving greater equity and inclusion within The Bachelor franchise" by "improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks."
"These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world," the statement concluded.
In a Feb. 9 interview with Rachel Lindsay, Harrison suggested that fans should have "understanding" and "compassion" for Kirkconnell, who was accused of liking a photo showing a Confederate flag as well as attending a 2018 antebellum plantation-themed party.
Harrison would later publicly apologize for speaking in a way that he said "perpetuates racism," while Kirkconnell (who is currently competing on Matt James' season of The Bachelor) has since said she "didn't recognize how offensive and racist" her actions were.
Then on March 4, Harrison further addressed the scandal in an interview with Good Morning America's Michael Strahan.
"I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that," he expressed at the time. "I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it."
The 49-year-old confirmed his intention to resume hosting duties, noting, "This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change."
On Feb. 27, it was revealed that Emmanuel Acho will step in for Harrison as host of The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special, which is set to air on Monday, March 15 at 8 p.m.
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