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Editorial: Olympic organizers' judgment in question again as composer resigns at 11th hour

Keigo Oyamada, one of the people in charge of composing the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony's music, has resigned with just days until the event starts. He was asked to make music for the opening four minutes, but it has now been decided his compositions will not be used.

    This is due to growing criticism of past magazine interviews, in which he openly confessed to bullying classmates with disabilities and others in his youth.

    But the behavior he described went beyond bullying -- it was more akin to abuse. Oyamada gave the interviews when he was already an artist popular with young people, and he showed no hint of remorse for his past behavior.

    There is absolutely no justification for bullying and abuse. The Olympic Charter bans all types of discrimination. "Unity in diversity" has been put forth as a principle of the Tokyo Games, and the opening ceremony's theme is "united by emotion." Oyamada's unsuitability for the role was crystal clear.

    Of even more serious concern is the human rights awareness -- or lack thereof -- from the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in choosing Oyamada.

    The organizing committee says it had not been aware of the interviews. But if they had done their research, they would have found them easily. As soon as Oyamada's assignment to the opening ceremony's creative team was announced, his remarks about past bullying drew great attention online.

    Even after this information surfaced, however, the committee continued to back Oyamada.

    Referring to the fact that Oyamada recently tweeted apologies for his actions, the committee released a statement saying he is "currently an artist committed to creative endeavors with high ethical standards." A committee PR official stressed that Oyamada made significant contributions to opening ceremony preparations.

    The committee was reportedly planning to have Oyamada create music for the Paralympics, too. An organization of families of people with disabilities released a statement protesting against him and his appointment, and demanded the committee fulfill its duty to accountability.

    Committee CEO Toshiro Muto admitted upon accepting Oyamada's resignation that the organization hadn't taken the situation seriously enough. The committee likely tried to go push ahead with an opening ceremony including Oyamada because the event was just days away. Regardless, it cannot be tolerated.

    In February, then organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori resigned amid criticism for misogynistic remarks. The following month, then Tokyo Games creative director Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down after it emerged that he made disparaging comments about a female entertainer's appearance when suggesting opening ceremony ideas.

    Doubts about the wisdom of holding the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus pandemic are deep-rooted. If the organizing committee does not fundamentally change its disregard for human rights, the gulf between the games and Japan's public will only widen further.

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