Japanese Olympian Miu Goto will receive a new gold medal after a local mayor bit her original one, in a move social media users are calling "unhygienic" and "impolite."
Last week, the Mayor of Nagoya Takashi Kawamura faced backlash after he was filmed taking off his mask and biting down on the softball gold medal, to pose for photos during an event celebrating the hometown Olympic hero.
ソフトボール金メダルに貢献 後藤希友投手（20）が表敬訪問 市長が突然ガブリ (21/08/04 11:57)
The strange act occurred when Goto visited Nagoya's city hall on August 4th to share her victory. Not only did Kawamura act in an unhygienic manner, but he also made jokes of a sexual nature towards the athlete.
"Are you prohibited from having romantic relationships?" he was heard saying to Goto.
Kawamura later admitted that his remarks had been inappropriate, and said that it was an honest error in judgment.
"I deeply regret making her uncomfortable with remarks that went too far," he said. "When I ask a young person if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it allows them to relax and speak more. As a mayor, it's important to put people one is talking to at ease."
Kawamura said he "received guidance" from Japanese Olympic Committee head Yasuhiro Yamashita, after which he made it known that he wanted to pay for a replacement.
"I hope the arrangements are made in line with Ms. Goto's wishes, or as close as possible," Kawamura said. Goto is expected to get a replacement for the medal soon.
Japan won gold in the softball event after defeating the U.S by 2-0 in a rematch.
Social media users were appalled by Kawamura's actions and shared their disgust online...
Many other athletes spoke out on social media under the hashtag #選手にリスペクトを ("Respect Athletes").
One Twitter user wrote: "Wha? I watched the video and I heard a 'clink' of his teeth hitting the medal. I treat my gold medal so delicately I can't imagine how big Goto's heart is that she wouldn't get angry. I would have cried."
While another commented: "I don't know the situation or the relationship between those two, but besides the disrespect to the athlete, why would you bite someone else's property in the middle of a pandemic? Even at the ceremony, we have to put the medals on ourselves for infection control. Sorry, I just don't get what he was doing."
Even Toyota, the world's biggest car manufacturer, said in a statement about Kawamura: "It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete. And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention."
Kawamura then said in a televised apology after Toyota released its statement: "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 medals to test for gold used to be a funny gesture commonly made among athletes before COVID, but is now heavily frowned upon.