News • Racism
Singer alleges racism after he was dropped from Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony
A musician claims he was cut from the Olympic opening ceremony because he was black .
Latyr Sy, a Senagalese percussionist based in Japan for 20 years, 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?”
Tokyo 2020 failed to respond to requests for comment from the Telegraph on the allegations on Friday .
The claim comes just a day after organisers dismissed the show’s director over a joke about the Holocaust .
Kentaro Kobayashi’s comments in a 1998 comedy sketch prompted a grovelling apology from the latest Olympic chief, Seiko Hashimoto .
The troubled opening ceremony was already dealing with the 11th hour headache of replacing a composer forced to step down at the weekend over historic bullying and abuse of disabled children .
Mr. Sy had told the Independent website he was booked by a third party for the ceremony in December, 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 .
He said he saw a rehearsal on television and realised his section of the show had also scrapped another Senegalese musician 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” .
Mr. Sy, who was also contacted by The Telegraph, had previously travelled internationally to play on behalf of the Japanese government .