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apple developer(buyappleacc.com):Olympics: Second best in the world, but still saying sorry

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TOKYO — Kenichiro Fumita was crying so hard that he could barely get the words out.

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“I wanted to return my gratitude to the concerned people and volunteers who are running the Olympics during this difficult time,” Fumita, a Greco-Roman wrestler, said between sobs after finishing his final bout at the Games this week.

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“I ended up with this shameful result,” he said, bobbing his head abjectly. “I’m truly sorry.”

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Fumita, 25, had just won a silver medal.

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In what has become a familiar — and, at times, wrenching — sight during the Tokyo Olympics, many Japanese athletes have wept through post-competition interviews, apologising for any result short of gold. Even some who had won a medal, like Fumita, lamented that they had let down their team, their supporters, even their country.

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After Japan’s judo team earned silver, losing to France, Shoichiro Mukai, 25, also apologised.

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“I wanted to withstand a little bit more,” he said. “And I’m so sorry to everyone on the team.”

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Apologising for being second best in the world would seem to reflect an absurdly unforgiving metric of success. But for these athletes competing in their home country, the emotionally charged displays of repentance — which often follow pointed questions from the Japanese news media — can represent an intricate mix of regret, gratitude, obligation and humility.

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“If you don’t apologise for only getting silver, you might be criticised,” said Mr Takuya Yamazaki, a sports lawyer who represents players’ unions in Japan.

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From an early age, Japanese athletes “are not really supposed to think like they are playing sports for themselves,” Mr Yamazaki said. “Especially in childhood, there are expectations from adults, teachers, parents or other senior people. So it’s kind of a deeply rooted mindset.”

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The expectations placed on the athletes have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which made the Olympics deeply unpopular with the Japanese public before the events began. Many may feel more pressure than usual to deliver medals to try to justify holding the Games, as anxiety swells over rising coronavirus cases in Japan. Athletes who have failed to do so have offered outpourings of regret.

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“I feel fed up with myself,” said Kai Harada, a sports climber, vigorously wiping his eyes during an interview after failing to make the finals.

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Takeru Kitazono, a gymnast who finished sixth on the horizontal bar, fought back tears as he spoke of his supporters.

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“I wanted to return my gratitude with my performance,” he said. “But I couldn’t.”

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Naomi Osaka, in a statement after she was eliminated in the third round of women’s singles tennis, said she was proud to represent Japan but added, “I’m sorry that I couldn’t respond to people’s expectations.”

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In some respects, these athletes have offered an extreme form of the apologies that are everyday social lubricants in Japanese culture.

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