An Olympic gold medal-winning Japanese softball player will receive a replacement medal after her hometown mayor couldn’t resist taking an enthusiastic chomp on the shiny prize during a ceremony on August 4. On camera. While standing next to the masked athlete. And also in front of a backdrop warning people to take COVID-19 precautions.
According to the AP, Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura couldn’t take his eyes off of softball player Miu Goto’s gold medal during a televised visit honoring the hometown hero. He asked Goto to put the medal around his neck, and after she obliged, Kawamura pulled down his mask and bit down on the gold, much like Olympic athletes have been doing for the photo op for years now. But it must be pointed out that Kawamura is not an Olympic athlete, and he did not earn that medal. In technical terms, this breach of etiquette is known as a no-no.
Kawamura did not explain what possessed him to deposit his saliva on Goto’s medal, but he did apologize after receiving a barrage of criticism from social media users, constituents in Nagoya, other Olympic athletes, and the carmaker Toyota, which is headquartered near Nagoya and owns the Red Terriers softball team that Goto plays for.
“I forgot my position as Nagoya mayor and acted in an extremely inappropriate way. I am fully aware that I should reflect on that,” Kawamura said after even Toyota came down on him, per Reuters. (The New York Times also reported that the mayor visited the Toyota offices to personally deliver a letter of apology, but waited in his car while his aides entered the building.)
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers will be fronting the costs for a new medal for Goto, despite the Nagoya mayor’s offer to pay for a replacement himself. May we suggest to the mayor that he try one chip instead?