NBC News has fired analyst Joshua Ramo over his comments on Japan and South Korea during the game’s Opening Ceremony on Friday.
Speaking on the significance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attendance at the games, Ramo compared the recovery of the South Korean economy to their Pacific neighbor.
“Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technical and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,” Ramo said.
However, the comment caused a whirlwind of backlash over unresolved tensions from World War II — and a petition demanding Ramo’s removal quickly gained thousands of signatures.
Over the weekend, NBC caved to the public pressure. Ramo was quietly removed from the news network’s Olympic coverage.
Additionally, NBC apologized on its NBCSN cable network Saturday and formally to the Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee.
Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945. Petitioners said anyone familiar with Japanese treatment of Koreans during that time would be deeply hurt by Ramo’s remark. They also criticized the accuracy of giving Japan credit for South Korea’s resurgence.
The petition had more than 10,000 supporters on Sunday.
“We believe that staying silent is not an appropriate response to such ignorant, insensitive, and harmful information that defies the very spirit of peace, harmony, and human dignity of the Olympics,” it said.
NBC said in a statement Sunday it was gratified that local Olympic officials accepted the apology. The network said that South Korea and its Olympic organizers have been “exceptional hosts in every way.”
Ramo, a former journalist at Time magazine, is co-CEO at Kissinger Associates and had been hired temporarily by NBC to bring historical context to its coverage. The network said his assignment at the Olympics is now over.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article