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A TV commentator was fired for saying South Korean table-tennis Olympians had eyes so 'narrow' he couldn't understand 'how they can see the ball'

Jul 29, 2021, 19:32 IST
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South Korea's Jeoung Young-sik competes against China's Fan Zhendong during their men's singles quarterfinals table tennis match at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 28, 2021. Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images
  • A TV commentator was fired Tuesday for making a racist comment during an Olympic broadcast.
  • Dimosthenis Karmiris made the remark about South Korean table tennis players' eyes.
  • The Greek TV station ERT said in a statement released the same day that it fired Karmiris.

A Greek sports commentator has been fired for making a racist comment on the air about South Korean table-tennis players.

Asked about the skill of South Korean table-tennis players in general, the commentator Dimosthenis Karmiris said: "Their eyes are narrow, so I can't understand how they can see the ball moving back and forth."

Karmiris was providing commentary on Tuesday after the South Korean Jeoung Young-sik beat the Greek player Panagiotis Gionis.

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Jeoung, who is the world-ranked No. 5, edged out Gionis, who is ranked 17 internationally, four sets to three.

The broadcaster ERT issued a statement within hours saying it had fired Karmiris.

"Racist comments have no place on public television," ERT said in a statement posted on its website. "The collaboration between ERT and Dimosthenis Karmiris was terminated today, immediately after the morning show."

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Several racist incidents linked to the Olympics have surfaced over the past three days.

On Tuesday, the World Archery Federation posted a tweet to celebrate South Korea's Olympic team. In its post, however, the federation used a kind of typeface known as a "chop-suey font." The typeface, which imitates the brushstrokes often used in calligraphy, is linked to racist stereotypes of Asian people.

A representative for the World Archery Federation argued the use of the font was not racist, according to Reuters.

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Then on Wednesday, TV cameras caught the German sports director Patrick Moster using racist language to encourage the German cyclist Nikias Arndt to catch up with his rivals from Eritrea and Algeria. Per a Metro report, Moster told Ardnt to "get the camel drivers."

"In the heat of the moment, and with the overall burden that we have here at the moment, my choice of words was wrong," Moster told reporters, per Metro. "I am sorry. I'm so sorry. I can only sincerely apologize. I didn't mean to discredit anyone."

The world governing body for sports cycling, Union Cycliste Internationale, released a statement about Moster on Wednesday, saying: "There is no place for racism in sport, and the UCI continues its commitment to eradicating all forms of discrimination from cycling and encouraging diversity and equality."

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