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Olympic organizers renew opening ceremony after intimidation scandal

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Tokyo 2020 is in the process of changing the Olympic opening ceremony just three days before it takes place after composer Keigo Oyamada resigned following a riot over past comments about the intimidation of disabled schoolmates in the his youth.

After initially suggesting he wanted to keep Oyamada in place, organizers have changed course, accepting his resignation and canceling the four-minute mark he set for the opening ceremony on Friday.

The last-minute decision showed the desperation of Tokyo 2020 organizers to appease public opinion when a series of scandals plagued the games in the last days before the start of the competition.

But the decision to shut down Oyamada’s composition sparked a “planning nightmare,” he said, adding that one person is closely tied to Tokyo 2020. The initial debate focused on whether to replace a completely new piece of music in the gap or it adds about 30 seconds to all the other segments of the show – an even more complex proposition.

“In both cases, you ask a lot of planners at the last minute. Not to mention the artists,” the person said.

A 1994 interview with Oyamada, where the composer known as “Cornelius” boasted of humiliating and intimidating a disabled student while he was at school, resurfaced on social media over the weekend.

Keigo Oyamada © AP

“In light of his sincere apologies, we have expressed our willingness to allow Mr. Oyamada to continue his work on the preparations in the short time remaining before the opening ceremony,” Tokyo 2020 said. “However, we have come to believe that this decision was wrong, and we have decided to accept his resignation.”

Oyamada’s departure came as the number of Covid-19 cases linked to the games went to 71, with growing fears that absences would affect sporting competition.

The nine cases announced Tuesday include an athlete residing in the Olympic Village, increasing the number of cases here to three, as well as an outside official, six entrepreneurs and a volunteer.

Organizers said 18 people were considered to be in close contact with South African footballers who tested positive for Covid-19 the previous week. South Africa is scheduled to play Japan in a first-round match on Thursday.

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Tokyo 2020 is also under pressure following the arrest of a member of Uzbekistan’s Olympic staff on charges of serious sexual assault; the disappearance of a Ugandan weightliftter, who left a note saying he wanted to find work in the country; and Toyota’s decision not to advertise Olympic-themed things in Japan.

When infections began to grow last month and public opposition to the games had remained high, Japanese sponsors who had previously paid as much as $ 100 million for the right to link their brands to the Olympics have assumed consultants to ascertain whether the association will have a negative effect.

Toyota’s decision not to explicitly publish Olympic-themed advertising has been described by senior executives of two other sponsors as very influential, making it much easier for them to do the same.

Mitsui Fudosan, the real estate company that led the development of the Olympic Village, has started publishing ads based around the image of the sport, but which do not even pay attention to the games.

Panasonic, sponsor of the Global Olympics until 2024, said it will continue to use the Olympic logo in its television commercials, but that it had no plans to air commercials specifically related to the Tokyo 2020 games.

Nomura, the Japanese bank, has continued to handle an advertisement that closes on an image of the Olympic rings next to the national stadium.

More information from Kana Inagaki in Tokyo

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