Keigo Oyamada resigned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Monday amid a bullying scandal from his childhood. The Japanese musician, who goes by the name Cornelius, announced the resignation on social media, officially stepping down from his role in Friday’s opening ceremony.
The backlash became too much for the Japanese composer after fans found out that Cornelius had previously bullied a classmate with disabilities during his childhood. The story was part of a Quick Japan magazine issue published in 1995, which confirmed the story that Oyamada confined a classmate in a cardboard box and made fun of a student with disabilities.
Keigo Oyamada told the story of his childhood antics, describing the bullying in clear detail to the magazine. The story was published in the mid-1990s. Now those stories are coming to light ahead of the Olympics opening ceremonies, for which Cornelius composed music.
The 52-year-old musician stepped down from the ceremony, explaining to his 73,000 Twitter followers that “I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.” This wasn’t the first time Keigo Oyamada apologized for his actions. But his past apologies did not appease fans.
After Oyamada’s resignation, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee made a statement, condemning Cornelius’ actions, saying that they are “absolutely unacceptable.” The committee accepted the composer’s apology Monday, but had previously prevented Keigo Oyamada from stepping down.
“In light of his sincere apology, we expressed a willingness to allow Mr. Oyamada to continue his work on preparations in the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony,” the organizing committee explained. “However, we have come to believe that this decision was wrong, and we have decided to accept his resignation. We offer our deepest apologies for the offense and confusion caused to so many during this time.”
Though some fans claim “cancel culture” has gone too far, others pointed to media accounts of Cornelius’ interview, which detailed abusive and degrading treatment of his peers. One such account claimed that Keigo Oyamada forced another child to eat feces or to masturbate, though many of the claims have not been verified from the official interview.
Since the scandal has resurfaced, many individuals have shared photographs of the magazine pages, which outlined Keigo Oyamada’s horrific bullying. On his Twitter page, the Japanese composer explained that “my participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I acutely feel that my having accepted the request was lacking consideration for various people. I made arrangements with relevant parties and submitted my resignation to the organizing committee.”
A famous pop culture blog, known as ARAMA! JAPAN pointed out that the worst part about Cornelius’ actions was that he reflected on them in the magazine interview in a boastful nature. “These reflections were not looked back on regretfully, but instead were seen as funny childhood moments.”
He further apologized, saying that “in my school days and at the time of the (magazine) interviews, I was a very immature man who could not imagine how the victimized feel.” He also said that he wanted to contact the former classmate to apologize, saying that guilt had prevented him from making amends earlier.
Keigo Oyamada’s resignation comes just four days before the opening ceremony and it isn’t clear how the festivities will continue without his participation. As of now, there have been very few details offered by Tokyo 2020 or the committee involved with the opening ceremony. It has not been announced if athletes will be allowed to attend Friday’s ceremony and no information regarding performer attendance has been revealed.
The Olympics have faced setback after setback, and Keigo Oyamada is not the first to step down in such close proximity to the event. The former Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, who is the ex-prime minister of Japan, stepped down in February after making comments regarding women. Mori made sexist comments, claiming women talk too much and saying that meetings with female board directors “take a lot of time.”
In March, the Olympics creative head, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned after making a derogatory comment about a female entertainer. In speaking about the plus-sized performer, Sasaki said that she should wear pig ears during the show and called her an “Olympig.” He apologized, but the backlash forced him to step down.