The Tokyo 2020 Twitter account warned athletes earlier in the Olympic Games that the medals aren’t edible. But that hasn’t stopped the mayor of Nagoya, Japan, from trying the theory out — and landing himself in some trouble.
At an event to celebrate Japanese softball pitcher Miu Goto’s gold-medal triumph, Nagoya’s mayor Takashi Kawamura put the medal around his neck and then bit down on it. This was all carried out against a backdrop warning people to socially distance and respect hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The act of biting down on medals has been common practice in the Games, but Toyota — the sponsor of the Red Terriers softball franchise for which Goto plays — issued a stern rebuke.
“It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete,” Toyota said in a statement about Kawamura on Thursday. “And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention.”
Kawamura later apologized.
“I forgot my position as Nagoya mayor and acted in an extremely inappropriate way. I am fully aware that I should reflect on that,” he said in a televised apology after Toyota released its statement.
Kawamura’s actions saw other Olympic athletes bite back. Naohisa Takato, who won gold in judo at Tokyo 2020, tweeted: “I saw the video and heard his teeth making a clicking noise.
“I handle my medal very carefully so that it won’t get scratched. Goto’s heart is too big to get angry. I would have cried.”
— 高藤直寿TAKATO NAOHISA (@naohisatakato) August 4, 2021
Silver-medal winning Olympic fencer Yuki Ota also had his say, also on Twitter: “Apart from showing a lack of respect for athletes, he bit it even though [athletes] are putting on medals themselves or on their teammates during medal ceremonies as part of infection prevention measures, but what is biting? Sorry, I can’t understand it.”
— 太田雄貴 (@yuking1125) August 4, 2021