Japanese snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo was been excluded from the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics for unapologetically flouting the team dress code.The 21 year-old triggered a storm of criticism from the Japanese public when he appeared at Tokyo’s Narita Airport sporting dreadlocks and low-slung trousers.
It did not help Kokubo’s case when he made light of the incident and said the Games were “nothing special” and “just another snowboarding event.”
In response to the numerous complaints over his appearance – his shirt was also untucked and his tie was hanging loose – Kokubo was told to apologise before the media.
He did so, saying he was “reflecting on” the way he had dressed, but managed to worsen the furore by sarcastically dragging his words out.
The Ski Association of Japan reacted furiously and wanted to put Kokubo, who is competing in the half-pipe competition, on the first plane back to Japan.
Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Japanese delegation, managed to have the punishment reduced to a ban on taking part in the opening ceremony and a second public apology.
At the second time of asking, Kokubo appeared before the cameras with a more serious demeanour and said, “I am sorry for causing trouble for so many people. I feel great responsibility for that.”
He then gave a formal bow.
As well as Kokubo, snowboard team manager Fumikazu Hagiwara and two coaches were banned from the opening ceremony for failing to supervise their charge.