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Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying it gave her "the sense that [she] was communicating with primitive people" who, "like chimpanzees, were shy at the beginning but gradually opened their hearts." She included photos of herself with several African athletes to illustrate the story, describing them in the captions as "cute chimpanzees."

The blog is currently closed.

The woman joined the race management team after being introduced to them by competition officials.  This year was her second time working as an interpreter for them. She has been working as an interpreter for foreign athletes at the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon for over ten years. Questioned by reporters she said, "I was only trying to convey the sense that it was difficult to communicate. I am not a racist. I should have thought more carefully about the choice of words. I am sorry."

Race committee secretary general and Beppu deputy mayor Hisakazu Anan, 63, commented, "We received reports about the situation from outside sources and confirmed their veracity. It is very unfortunate that such a thing has occurred in conjunction with an historic event such as ours. We apologize to anyone who read the blog in question and was offended."

source article:
https://www.oita-press.co.jp/1010000000/2019/02/15/JD0057786940
translated by Brett Larner

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Comments

Anonymous said…
No matter what she says, she is absolutely (or unconsciously)a racist. What offends me most is that she behaves like 'an innocent goodwill volunteer translator. Most probably she is an English teacher at a high school because there are not many English speaker who can translate well in this local city and the administrators hire them cheaply.In addition to your report she said,"I could't catch what they say because of their poor pronunciation of English." She didn't think that's what she was there for but thought that that's what they were to be looked down on. Moreover, she has no respect or finds no value in runners.I'm furious about this woman because I am a runner and a residence in Beppu City where this race is annually held,which I have been proud of. On behalf of people concerned of this race I say, "I am deeply sorry for everyone who was hurt by this racist's absurd comment and please believe me say that this woman is an unbelievable exception, We all would like you to come and run on this beautiful, scenery course with full of audience with enthusiastic cheers foryou.

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