Japanese musician Cornelius has resigned his job as a composer for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics after admitting to bullying his childhood classmates.
- Keigo Oyamada, who plays Cornelius, apologized for abusing his classmates, some of whom live with disabilities
- Games organizers initially said they hoped he would stay, but have since called the bullying “absolutely unacceptable”
- It’s the latest headache for officials as they deal with rising COVID-19 cases among athletes
The 52-year-old, real name Keigo Oyamada, resigned days before Friday’s ceremony after interviews in 1990s magazines, in which he spoke about his history of abuse of classmates, including some living with a disability have resurfaced.
Cornelius apologized online last week but stepped down on Monday following public criticism and calls for him to step down from his role at the Olympics.
In a statement on his website, Cornelius said he feels deep remorse and responsibility.
“I offer my sincerest apologies,” he said.
“Back when I was in school and at the time of the interviews (in the magazine), I was a very immature man who couldn’t imagine how the victims felt.”
Cornelius said his role in the Olympics and Paralympics lacked consideration for “various people”.
“I have made arrangements with the parties concerned and tendered my resignation to the organizing committee,” he said.
Cornelius rose to fame as the co-founder of Tokyo rock band Flipper’s Guitar, and later embarked on a solo career.
The organizers of the games change their tone
Cornelius’ resignation came a day after Games organizers said they wanted the musician to stay in his post because he had shown remorse.
Since his resignation, officials have called Cornelius’ actions “absolutely unacceptable” and said their earlier decision to let him stay was “wrong”.
“We offer our sincere apologies for the offense and confusion caused to so many during this time,” organizers said.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Cornelius’ past bullying went against government policy to achieve an inclusive society and “cannot be tolerated”.
A segment of music Cornelius composed for the Opening Ceremony will no longer be used and it will be removed from his planned role in the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games, Japanese media reported.
Cornelius’ resignation from the Olympics is the latest in a string of scandals for organizers, who also face rising COVID-19 infections among athletes.
Former Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori resigned in February after making sexist comments, while Tokyo Olympics creative director Hiroshi Sasaki resigned in March after comparing a Japanese artist to a pig.
Friday’s opening ceremony will take place without spectators in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, although some officials, guests and media will attend.
ABC / son