As the contingent of Olympic athletes from Italy entered Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the parade of nations on Friday, a South Korean broadcaster, MBC, aired a photo of a pizza.
For Norway? A piece of salmon.
Then there was Ukraine, which the broadcaster reminded viewers was where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened in 1986, complete with a photo of the doomed power station.
The images drew criticism from viewers, who said they were offensive or had perpetuated stereotypes, and MBC soon apologized for its choice of “inappropriate” photos.
“The images and captions are intended to make it easier for the viewers to understand the entering countries quickly during the opening ceremony,” MBC said in a statement in English, published Saturday on Twitter. “However, we admit there was a lack of consideration for the countries concerned, and inspection was not thorough enough. It is an inexcusable mistake.”
For Romania, the broadcaster had used an image of Count Dracula. And for the Marshall Islands, it had noted that it had once been a nuclear test site for the United States.
When it was Malaysia’s turn in the parade of nations, MBC showed a graphic with that country’s coronavirus vaccination rate, along with its gross domestic product.
In its statement, MBC said that it would investigate the process of how the images, and the captions that accompanied them, had been chosen and vetted.
“Furthermore, we will fundamentally re-examine the production system of sports programs to avoid any similar accidents in the future,” the broadcaster said.