A South Korean broadcaster used the pictures and captopns of Pizza for Italy, Dracula for Romania and Chernobyl for Ukraine to depict nations at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. MBC has since apologised for offending viewers, after complaints the visuals were “offensive” and “ridiculous”.
The channel said it wanted to make it easier for viewers to understand the entering countries quickly but said it was an “inexcusable mistake”. At a press conference on Monday, the channel’s CEO Park Sung-jae apologised, saying MBC had “damaged the Olympic values of friendship, solidarity and harmony”. “I bow my head and deeply apologise,” he said, adding that MBC would be putting “in all [their] effort to prevent another accident from happening”. When Haiti’s athletes walked onto the stadium, a caption posted on screen by South Korea’s MBC network read: “The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president.” When Syrian athletes entered, MBC aired a caption that said: “Rich underground resources; a civil war that has been going on for 10 years.” Another MBC caption described the Marshall Islands as “once a nuclear test site for the US.” And when Ukraine’s athletes entered the parade, MBC showed an image of the Chernobyl disaster — the world’s worst nuclear accident.
When Italy walked on, the broadcaster pulled up an image of a pizza. For Norway, a salmon fillet was shown. An image of Dracula was used for Team Romania. And for Team El Salvador, a country where Bitcoin is legal tender, a picture representing the cryptocurrency was shown. MBC has been in trouble for this very same offence before. It was fined after using similar captions and images at the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It had then referred to Zimbabwe “as a country with deadly inflation”.