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Japanese composer pulls out of Olympic opening ceremony, amid outrage over bullying of disabled student

Japanese composer pulls out of Olympic opening ceremony, amid outrage over bullying of disabled student
Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada has pulled out of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, amid controversy over decades-old interviews in which he boasted about physically and sexually bullying a disabled classmate.

Oyamada, who goes by the stage name ‘Cornelius’, announced his resignation from the games’ opening ceremony via Twitter on Monday, stating that his participation “lacked consideration for various people.”

Oyamada apologized last week after some damning interviews he gave to Japanese magazines in the 1990s resurfaced. In the interviews, Oyamada admitted to bullying classmates in high school, claiming that he beat and teased a disabled student, and forced him to eat feces and masturbate in front of others. Oyamada said at the time that he had “no regrets” over his behaviour.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart, of course to the classmate himself whom I have hurt, and all my fans, friends and other people involved,” Oyamada said in a statement on Friday. “I apologize and I will try to be a better person.”

Oyamada’s withdrawal is the latest setback for the Tokyo games, which are already taking place a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic. No spectators will be present at the games, and amid a spate of infections among athletes and staff at the Olympic Village, polling shows that a majority of the Japanese public doesn’t want the games to go ahead.

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At the time of his interviews, Oyamada was just beginning to taste success as a rock musician. He went on to achieve commercial and critical acclaim in the 1990s as one of the pioneers of the Shibuya-kei sound, a pop subgenre heavily influenced by the sounds of the Beach Boys and Phil Spector, among other 1960s artists from the US and UK.

Olympic organizers initially accepted Oyamada’s apology and insisted that he should still be a part of the opening ceremony. However, they have since stated that “this decision was wrong” and accepted his resignation, Kyodo News reported.

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