Tokyo Olympics composer resigns after admitting bullying disabled classmates

A Japanese musician who admitted bullying classmates, some of whom had disabilities, while at school has resigned as a composer for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olimpiese Spele.

Keigo Oyamada, who is better known as Cornelius, initially resisted calls to quit after reports surfaced last week of magazine interviews he gave in the mid-1990s in which he appeared to boast about the incidents.

But on Monday, Oyamada said he would step down after his actions and comments drew criticism on social media.

“I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” he said on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. “I apologise from the bottom of my heart.”

Oyamada told Quick Japan magazine in 1995 how he had confined a classmate in a cardboard box and forced a boy with an intellectual disability to eat his own faeces and masturbate in front of other children. He made similar comments in another magazine interview a year earlier.

He apologised on Saturday, saying he was sorry his involvement with the Olympics and Paralympics had “made many people feel very uncomfortable”, but did not offer to resign.

“In my school days and at the time of the (magazine) interviews, I was a very immature man who could not imagine how the victimised people felt,” he said in a statement on his website.

Olympic organisers condemned the 52-year-old’s actions and remarks but initially said they would continue to work with him with just days to go before the opening ceremony.

Maandag, the organising committee admitted it had been wrong to accept his first apology. Describing his actions as “absolutely unacceptable,” it said: “In light of his sincere apology, we expressed a willingness to allow Mr Oyamada to continue his work on preparations in the short time remaining before the opening ceremony. Egter, we have come to believe that this decision was wrong, and we have decided to accept his resignation.

“We offer our deepest apologies for the offence and confusion caused to so many during this time.”

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, described the misbruik as “utterly intolerable,” adding that he hoped the Paralympics, which begin on 24 Augustus, would “deliver the spirit of ‘barrier-free’ towards realising an inclusive society”.

Oyamada’s resignation, coming four days before the opening ceremony, is the latest in a series of setbacks for organisers, who are also contending with Games-related coronavirus cases en, on Monday, the decision by Toyota, a major sponsor, aan scrap Olympic-themed TV adverts during the Games.

The Japanese carmaker also said it would not be sending executives to the Olympic curtain-raiser, which will take place in a near-empty main stadium.

The organising committee’s former president, Yoshiro Mori, was forced to quit in February after making sexist remarks about women in sports administration.

The following month, the creative director for the opening ceremony, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned after making a derogatory comment about the popular celebrity Naomi Watanabe.

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