Japanese Mayor Draws Rebuke For Chomping Olympian's Gold Medal

If you didn't earn it, you don't get to bite it.

It’s pretty simple, really: Never chomp someone else’s Olympic medal.

Especially during a pandemic.

And definitely not in front of a banner advocating that people take measures to slow the spread of said pandemic.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Nagoya, Japan’s fourth-largest city, sparked outrage when he removed his face mask and proceeded to bite the Olympic gold medal of Japanese softball pitcher Miu Goto.

Mayor Takashi Kawamura completed the stunt in front of a backdrop encouraging people to keep social distance and wash their hands because of COVID-19:

Nagoya city Mayor Takashi Kawamura bites the Olympic gold medal of softball pitcher Miu Goto during a ceremony in Nagoya on Aug. 4.
Nagoya city Mayor Takashi Kawamura bites the Olympic gold medal of softball pitcher Miu Goto during a ceremony in Nagoya on Aug. 4.
KYODO Kyodo via Reuters

In an unfortunate coincidence, Reuters reports, “gold medal” and “germ medal” are pronounced the same in Japanese, giving the incident enough fuel online to go, well, viral.

The incident gained enough publicity that Toyota, a major sponsor of the Tokyo Games, issued a critical statement Thursday.

“It is unfortunate that he was unable to feel admiration and respect for the athlete,” Toyota said. “And it is extremely regrettable that he was unable to give consideration to infection prevention.”

Following Toyota’s rebuke, Kawamura issued a public apology for acting “in an extremely inappropriate way.”

According to the International Olympic Committee, the gold medals for the Tokyo Games contain at least 6 grams of gold plating on pure silver. The bulk of the material in the medals comes from recycled electronic devices donated by the Japanese public.

And as Kawamura found out, they’re not edible: