The lead-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang was one rife with conversations about all manner of potential controversies that could taint the South Korea games. Viewers didn't even make it through the celebrated opening ceremonies before a mini-disaster arrived in the form of now-former analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo, who was fired after making highly criticized comments about South Koreans' feelings about Japan.
For the PyeongChang Games, businessman and former journalist Joshua Cooper Ramo returned to NBC Sports to reprise the analyst position he took on for the Beijing Games back in 2008. That opening telecast actually won Ramo an Emmy and a Peabody award, which were shared with Bob Costas and Matt Lauer. But here, the former journalist offered some award-unworthy comments by saying the following as multi-cultural athletes entered the stadium:
[E]very Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.
Japan forces occupied the Korean peninsula for 35 years through the duration of both World Wars, with many reported atrocities happening during that span, and the nations have shared a less-than-heartwarming relationship ever since. Thus, Joshua Cooper Ramo's words were entirely off the mark, and it's no surprise that a swift backlash went into effect soon after they were aired around the world.
NBC was quick to issue apologies to the Olympic committee and the South Korean population, according to the New York Post. And even though the network had more plans to use Joshua Cooper Ramo throughout the rest of the Olympics coverage, that decision was instantly rethought, and Ramo was soon fired. Considering the ceremony telecast was on a 14-hour delay due to the time differences, someone probably should have been able to catch the comments before they were revealed to the world, and then handled Ramo's situation behind closed doors. But that obviously didn't happen.
Joshua Cooper Ramo has many years behind him in the public eye, working for both Newsweek and Time before making bigger moves in the business world. He's currently the co-CEO for Kissinger Associates, is on the Board of Directors for both Starbucks and Federal Express, and has written a pair of New York Times bestselling books about emerging global shifts. He's perhaps not the kind of person one would expect to incite an international uproar over comments such as these.
NBC Sports still has lots of other analysts, commentators and personalities around to cover the rest of the PyeongChang Games, so be sure to tune into NBC and its many other networks for full coverage. Check out one Olympian who is garnering much better headlines than Ramo, if the Olympics aren't your thing, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see when everything else is starting up soon.