The Tokyo Olympics suffered another blow on Monday, when Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada resigned as a composer for the opening ceremony amid criticism for bullying a disabled classmate decades earlier.
Oyamada, who detailed the abuse in Japanese magazine interviews in the 1990s, said he was stepping down after the revelations recently resurfaced ahead of the Tokyo Games, which are set to start Friday.
“I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” Oyamada told his 73,000 Twitter followers. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Organizers had said as recently as Sunday that Oyamada, praised by some as the “Japanese Beck,” would stay in his role since he had shown regret for his actions.
Oyamada, who was then on the rise in Japan, told local music magazines in the 1990s that he previously forced a mentally disabled boy to eat his own feces and masturbate in front of other classmates, NBC News reported.
“These reflections were not looked back on regretfully, but instead were seen as funny childhood moments,” pop culture blog ARAMA! JAPAN wrote of Oyamada’s admitted past. “He spoke of them in a boastful nature.”
Oyamada, also known as “Cornelius,” tweeted Friday that he wanted to contact the former classmate to apologize while admitting he had been “immature,” but was prevented by guilt from confessing to the bullying earlier. Some critics, including a professor of media studies at Tokyo University, had urged the 52-year-old composer to resign, saying his actions didn’t align with Olympic principles like diversity and human rights.
It’s unclear if Friday’s opening ceremony program would be altered in light of Oyamada’s resignation. The move marks the latest black eye for the upcoming Olympics. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki resigned as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies for comparing comedian Naomi Watanabe to a pig.
A month earlier, Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president for saying that women speak too much in meetings.
The Olympics are set to open Friday under a state of emergency in Tokyo, as well as in three neighboring prefectures. The opening ceremony will not have spectators, although some guests and media will attend. The state of emergency extends through Aug. 22, some two weeks after the games wrap up.
Two athletes in the Olympic village, meanwhile, have tested positive for COVID-19, organizers said Sunday. Both competitors were listed as non-Japanese, but no other details were immediately provided.
With Post wires
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