An Olympic gold medalist receives a new medal after chewing the first medal on the mayor of her hometown.
Takashi Kawamura, the mayor of Nagoya, Japan, took off his mask in a game and bit the medal of softball player Miu Goto, causing outrage online.
He was accused of ignoring Covid-19 restrictions and making them “disrespectful”.
Olympic officials have now announced that they will replace Ms. Goto’s medal with an intact one after the mayor apologized and said he would pay for the replacement.
At a ceremony last week to celebrate Japan’s victory over the US in the women’s softball final, the mayor bit his medal between his teeth and met fierce opposition.
Social media users said such behavior is unhealthy and rude to athletes.
“In addition to the disrespect for the athletes, even if [athletes] wear medals for him or his teammates at the award ceremony, he is still gritting his teeth as part of the infection prevention measures. I’m sorry, I can’t understand that”he added. Medalist Yu Ota Ji wrote on Twitter.
The “germ medal” quickly became popular on Japanese social media.
Even Toyota, the owner of Ms. Goto’s team, condemned the move, calling it “inappropriate” and “very unfortunate”.
The 72-year-old mayor later apologized for his actions, which reportedly sparked more than 7,000 complaints in the community.
“I forgot my position as mayor of Nagoya and I acted extremely inappropriately,” he said, adding that he wanted to pay for the medal to be replaced.
Tokyo 2020 organizers released a statement Thursday saying that the International Olympic Committee and Ms. Goto reached an agreement on alternative candidates. He said the International Olympic Committee will bear these costs.
Chewing medals is a common Olympic quirk, but is generally reserved for the winner.
Tokyo 2020 organizers seemed to downplay the incident on Twitter last week: “We just want to officially confirm that the # Tokyo2020 medals are inedible!”
Neither Mr. Kawamura nor Ms. Goto commented immediately.