Tokyo Olympics: Korean TV network sorry for national stereotypes in opening ceremony coverage

The broadcaster MBC showed a picture of Chernobyl as Ukraine’s representatives walked out into the stadium

Lawrence Ostlere
Saturday 24 July 2021 05:51
Japanese nurse and boxer Arisa Tsubata's Olympics opening ceremony performance goes viral

A South Korean TV network has apologised after using national stereotypes, including an image of Chernobyl for Ukraine, during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

TV station MBC used the images and captions as each nation filed into the National Stadium on Friday for the start of the Games.

Some of the broadcaster’s clumsy but less controversial imagery including food such as pizza to depict Italy, salmon when introducing Norway and sushi for Japan.

But they also showed a picture of Chernobyl as Ukraine’s representatives walked out into the stadium, the scene of a devastating 1986 nuclear accident.

The accompanying commentary included sweeping statements about Syria “at war for the past 10 years”, commenting on Nauru’s economic struggles and referring to the Marshall Islands as “America’s former nuclear testing area”.

“Inappropriate images and captions were used to introduce some stories,” MBC said in a statement. “We apologised to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers.”

The ceremony was played out in front of an empty stadium due to the safety measure amid the pandemic. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the stadium’s Olympic flame to signify the official opening of the Games.

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