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Biting your own medal is one thing. A Japanese mayor learned you don’t bite someone else’s.

Biting your own medal is one thing. A Japanese mayor learned you don’t bite someone else’s.
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Biting your own medal is one thing. A Japanese mayor learned you don’t bite someone else’s.

Biting your own medal is one thing. A Japanese mayor learned you don’t bite someone else’s.

Olympic athletes have long been photographed biting their medals, a festive if not entirely hygienic gesture.

But usually they bite their own medals. A mayor in Japan learned the hard way that snacking on someone else doesn’t turn out so well.

Nagoya’s Mayor Takashi Kawamura apologized after biting gold medalist Miu Goto, a member of the Japanese national softball team, in a ceremony Wednesday as he stood in front of a backdrop promoting coronavirus safety precautions. He was immediately pilloried on social media, where some Olympians said they would be furious if it happened to them. Others thought it was disgusting.

Toyota expressed its displeasure in a statement, saying Mr. Kawamura “did not pay tribute to the athlete and did not consider infection prevention”. (Goto also plays for the company’s corporate team.)

Mr. Kawamura said he later admitted that this was “grossly inappropriate conduct”.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart for making her and the others uncomfortable and causing them problems,” he said.

Local reports said Mr. Kawamura visited Toyota to deliver a letter of apology, but waited in the car while his assistants got inside. The city of Nagoya has received around 4,000 complaints from citizens criticizing its act, according to reports.

Naohisa Takato, gold medalist in judo, wrote on Twitter that he handled his medal with care so as not to damage it.

“Ms. Goto is so generous that she didn’t get angry,” he wrote. “If I were her, I would cry.

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Nao Kodaira, a speed skater who won gold at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, tweeted that he would have cried and “might not be able to recover for a while”.


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