A Japanese mayor apologized Thursday for chewing on an Olympic gold medal from a softball player who paid a courtesy visit after Japan beat the United States in the final at the Tokyo Games.
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura praised bowler Mio Goto during the August 4 visit, but did not take his eyes off the athlete’s medal. At his request, the player put the medal on his neck, but then Kawamura took off his mask and bit the medal.
“I’m really sorry for hurting the gold medalist’s treasure,” Kawamura told reporters on Thursday.
The mayor added that the medal was not damaged but offered to pay for a new one.
However, Goto accepted the IOC’s offer to replace her, according to Japanese media.
The medal sting has become a tradition in front of the cameras at the Olympics, but by the athletes themselves, and not by third parties.
The televised scene sparked thousands of complaints to the city council. Some athletes responded by saying that they looked after their medals as cups and that it was an attack on Kawamura to bite one of them.
“I would cry if it happened to me,” Naohisa Takato, who won gold for Japan in judo, wrote on Twitter. “I take my medal very carefully and try not to scratch it.”
Yuki Ota, who won a silver in fencing, classified the mayor’s behavior as disrespectful to the athletes and a bad idea in light of COVID-19 measures.
Goto reportedly considered keeping the original but eventually accepted the IOC’s offer.
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