International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach sank deeper into the puddle of controversy after he inadvertently called Japanese people “Chinese” in his first address to the people of Tokyo last week. While he praised Tokyo for organising the Olympics during the looming Covid-19 pandemic, he could not help the racist slip that was taken scornfully by Japanese people.
“Our common target is safe and secure games for everybody; for the athletes, for all the delegations, and most importantly also for the Chinese people — Japanese people,” Bach said. Japanese media saw through his mistake spoken in English even though it was not translated by his interpreter, leading to a series of backlash both from Japanese news outlets and social media. Before this, he was criticised for pressing Japan to organise the olympics in the midst of the virus outbreak.
Earlier in March, his comment of a “great sacrifice” to be made for the Games received negative feedback from the Japanese people. The idea of “great resilience and spirit” of the Japanese people and their ability “to overcome adversity” did not resonate well with them as they do not want to face any adversities due to the pandemic that should be avoided at all costs.
Even though Bach’s decisions don’t have a soothing effect it should not be ignored that the Japanese government has also pressed for the Olympics to happen. Like everyone else who visit a foreign country, Bach should be ideally in a 14-day quarantine period. However, he is slated to visit Peace Memorial Park dedicated to the victims of the U.S atomic bombings of 1945.
Kyodo News called it a politically motivated move during a state of emergency and over 30,000 signatures have been given in a petition to restrict the Olympic president to take this step.