The mayor of the Japanese city Nagoya has apologized for ignoring COVID-19 protocols and chomping down on an Olympic gold medal at an event meant to celebrate its winner, Japanese softball pitcher Miu Goto.
"I forgot my position as Nagoya mayor and acted in an extremely inappropriate way," Mayor Takashi Kawamura said in a statement. “I am fully aware that I should reflect on that.”
During the celebration of Goto’s gold medal, Kawamura pulled down his mask and put the medal between his teeth to pose for pictures. He pulled the stunt while standing in front of a backdrop used for press briefings that urge people to wash their hands and socially distance to prevent COVID-19 infections.
His shenanigans became instantly infamous on social media. Trending posts on Twitter said Kawamura had turned Goto's gold medal into a germ medal, which in Japanese is pronounced the same. Some called for Goto to get a replacement for the medal she won at the Tokyo 2020 Games playing for Japan.
Biting down on medals is common among athletes and prompted a humorous tweet from the official Tokyo2020 account to remind athletes that "medals are not edible."
The mayor’s antics on Thursday earned a public rebuke from the Toyota Motor Corp. which owns the Red Terriers softball team on which Goto plays. Toyota also dominates the economy of the region in central Japan where the city is located.
"It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete," Toyota said in a statement on Thursday. "And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention."