NBC Commentator Whose Insensitive Japan Comments Sparked Furor Is Done Covering Olympics

Joshua Ramo infuriated Koreans and others with comments about Japan and Korea's history that viewers said glossed over the two nations' troubled past.

The NBC commentator who was skewered by viewers for insensitive remarks he made during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is no longer covering the games, the broadcaster announced on Monday.

“Joshua Cooper Ramo has completed his responsibilities for NBC in Pyeongchang, and will have no further role on our air,” an NBC spokesman told Reuters. The network also said Ramo had been hired only for the opening ceremonies of the games. 

Ramo, a former journalist who served as an on-air analyst for NBC, infuriated Koreans on Friday when he flippantly commented on the history between Japan and South Korea during the opening ceremony. Spotting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Ramo mused that “every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example, has been so important to their own transformation.”

Though Ramo acknowledged that Japan “occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945,” Koreans and others blasted the commentator for glossing over this brutal history, which included the sexual slavery of tens of thousands of Korean women during World War II. To this day, the former occupation continues to strain the relationship between the two nations.

Joshua Cooper Ramo pictured in 2010.
Joshua Cooper Ramo pictured in 2010.

Facing intense backlash, including displeasure from the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee and a petition signed by thousands who called Ramo’s comments “deeply hurtful and outrageous,” NBC publicly apologized on Sunday for his remark. 

“We apologized quickly both in writing and on television for a remark made by one of our presenters during Friday night’s opening ceremony,” a spokesman said. “We’re very gratified that Pyeongchang’s organizing committee has accepted that apology.”

Clarification: Language in this story has been updated to include NBC’s explanation that Ramo had only been hired to cover the Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies.