The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagoya apologized on Thursday for “biting” the Olympic gold medalist of a softball player who visited his office after Japan beat the United States in the final.
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura praised shooter Mio Goto during her Aug. 4 visit, but his eyes were fixed on her gold medal. He asked her to put it around his neck, then Kawamura removed his muzzle and tried to bite off.
“I’m really sorry that I hurt the gold medalist’s treasure,” Kawamura told reporters on Thursday.
The mayor indicated that the medal was not damaged, despite his offer to pay for a new one.
However, Goto accepted the IOC’s offer to replace her, according to Japanese media reports.
Medal “biting” has become a staple of the Olympic shoots, but for the winners themselves, not others.
The scene, caught on television, prompted thousands of complaints to be sent to the city council. Some athletes said they treat their medals as treasures and that it was outrageous for a Kawamura to “bite” one.
“I’d cry if this happened to me,” Naohisa Takato, Japan’s gold medal winner in judo, tweeted. “I treat my gold medal nicely so I don’t scratch it.”
Yuki Ota, the silver medalist fencing player, said the mayor’s behavior was inappropriate for the athletes and was a bad idea for the COVID-19 measures.
Reportedly, Goto considered keeping the original but eventually accepted the IOC’s offer of a replacement.
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