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Japanese comedian pulls out of Olympic torch relay over committee chief's comments

Atsushi Tamura of the comedy duo London Boots Ichi-go Ni-go is seen at Matsue City Hall in Shimane Prefecture, on Oct. 11, 2016. (Mainichi/Takuya Nagamune)

TOKYO -- A member of a popular Japanese comedy double act announced via YouTube his withdrawal from the torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Feb. 3, after a series of controversial remarks by the president of the organizing committee.

    Atsushi Tamura, 47, one half of London Boots Ichi-go Ni-go, had been set to run in the central Japan city of Inuyama, in Aichi Prefecture, but it's now reported that he's already told the organizing committee that he will not be participating via his agency.

    In his remarks, Tamura expressed skepticism over comments made by Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games President Yoshiro Mori during a Liberal Democratic Party sports policy promotion meeting. Among the utterances, Mori said, "Whatever happens with the coronavirus we must push through. It's not a debate over whether we will or won't do it, but how we'll do it."

    Reflecting on the statements, Tamura said things including, "When I read articles and interviews (with Mori), I see these incomprehensible statements about the Olympics being held regardless of the coronavirus situation. I can't agree with that."

    At the same meeting, Mori also said, "Isn't it fine for famous people to just go running about in rice fields?" In response to this, Tamura was critical, saying, "This kind of statement, I don't know if it's a joke or not, but these kind of slips make me think that Mr. Mori hasn't changed since way before, and that these comments rob people's motivation." He added, "It makes me think that (these comments are) rude to the farmers who work those fields."

    (Japanese original by Tomonori Matsuo, Cultural News Department)

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