Senegalese singer Latyr Sy proclaims that he was excluded from performing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ceremony because of his African origin.
Latyr Sy, a Senagalese percussionist — who is a Japanese resident for 2 decades — accused organisers of racism after he was booked and then cancelled for inclusion at the curtain-raiser.
“It’s totally racist,” Mr Sy reportedly said: “I was told they said ‘Why this guy? Why this African guy?”
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I’ve felt a lot of things, but this just doesn’t fit with the Olympics. Why should I be silent?” he added.
Mr Sy relayed to a sport media (Independent website) that he was booked by a third party for the ceremony in December and sent the rehearsal schedule in April, but then eventually told by a PR company that organisers had rejected hiring him on the basis of his African heritage.
Latyr Sy continued saying in a further conversation that having watched a rehearsal session on television, he found out that his section of the show had also scrapped another Senegalese singer due to appear.
When I saw it I just felt sad,” he said. “I’m from a small island, a slave island called Goree. I lived in this country for more than 20 years and this scandalous Olympics… it hurts,” he told the website, adding that he was “not trying to blame anybody”.
The omission of Latyr Sy is the latest in the strings of scandals to hit the quadrennial sporting fiesta after it followed the dismissal of the Olympics opening ceremony director for Holocaust jokes.
Footage of Kentaro Kobayashi from the 1990s recently emerged in which the director appeared to make jokes about the Holocaust. It thereafter prompted the Olympics chief Seiko Hashimoto to tender an unreserved apology stating that the video ridiculed “painful facts of history”.
Three other Olympics officials have been relieved of their duty since the commencement of the year. Some days to the start of the tournament, a composer quit the team creating the ceremony after it emerged he had bullied classmates with disabilities at school
Also in March, Olympics’ creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki quit after suggesting that plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe could appear as an “Olympig”. He later apologised
Yoshiro Mori was forced to step down in February as the head of the organising committee after he made remarks about women that were criticised as “inappropriate”. Mr Mori was quoted as saying women talked too much and that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”.
Musician Latyr Sy has however previously performed on stage at international level on behalf of the Japanese government.