Toyota scolds Japanese mayor who bit athlete's gold medal

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Nagoya city Mayor Takashi Kawamura bites the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold medal of the softball athlete Miu Goto during a ceremony in Nagoya, central Japan, August 4, 2021, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Picture taken August 4, 2021. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
Nagoya city mayor Takashi Kawamura bites Miu Goto's gold medal. (Kyodo via Reuters)

Car giant Toyota has scolded a Japanese city mayor after he bit an athlete’s Olympic gold medal.

At a celebration event for Miu Goto, the pitcher in Japan’s winning softball team which won gold in Tokyo last week, Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura pulled down his face mask and put Goto's medal between his teeth.

This was in front of a backdrop urging people to follow coronavirus protocols.

The incident earned Kawamura internet infamy, but Toyota, the powerful car manufacturer which owns the Red Terriers softball team Goto plays for, was not impressed.

"It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete,” it said in a sternly-worded statement on Thursday.

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Miu Goto #27 of Team Japan pitches in the sixth inning during the Softball Gold Medal Game between Team Japan and Team United States on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on July 27, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)
Pitcher Miu Goto during Japan's softball win against the US in the final last week. (Getty Images)

“And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention.”

Toyota dominates the economy of the region in central Japan where Nagoya is located.

Kawamura apologised on television following the company's statement.

Watch: The remarkable moments when politics upstaged the Games

He said: “I forgot my position as Nagoya mayor and acted in an extremely inappropriate way. I am fully aware that I should reflect on that.”

Biting down on medals, which only contain a small amount of gold even if they are gold, is common among athletes – but not city mayors during pandemics.

Kawamura's apparent disregard for COVID-19 etiquette comes as infections spike across the Japan. Emergency measures against the virus now cover 70% of the country, while daily infections have topped 15,000 for the first time.

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The mayor has courted controversy before, for trying to shut down an exhibition on women forced to work in Japanese army brothels during the Second World War.

Kawamura was re-elected in April for a fourth term.

Watch: Bribery and corruption at the Olympics

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