Olympic Japanese Dreadlock Snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo Losing Supporters

February 16, 2010

The Japanese Olympic team snowboarder who made headlines when he was kept out of the opening ceremonies at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics for not following clothing regulations, and for his attitude toward the media and Japanese Olympic Committee.

I have seen a lot of news written that seems to imply that the problem was how he bucked “Japanese societal norms” or “broke the strict rules of conformity” by wearing his hair in dreadlocks, having his nose pierced, and wearing his “pants on the ground” as they say. The fact is, it probably had more to do with a lot of mouthing off (right before his insincere apology mentioned in my previous post “Kazuhiro Kokubo – Japanese Snowboard Athlete Apologizes for his Attitude” he was overheard saying “shut up” to members of the media asking about him. Reports have also come out that he bullied members of the team at the Torino Olympics in 2006 by ignoring them.

The latest news is that a pep rally originally planned for him at Tokai University where he is a student, has been cancelled. The reason?… because the university organizers could not find it in their hearts to sincerely and heartfully support him.

Basically, it’s not about clothing, and never was. It’s about what Japan expects from its representatives. Think of it as any other athlete who treats his teammates, sport officials, the media, and fans with that attitude.

Tomorrow he has a chance to put his money where his mouth is… or at least put his snowboarding skills where his mouth is. If he takes home a medal, he’ll have a chance to explain himself to the media and maybe even some appearances on tv. If he really cleans it up, he may get a few tv commercials. The snow’s in his court now.

Here’s some video of him smacking his teeth and saying “Ureseena” (often translated as “shut up”, “noisy”, or “loud and annoyin”). Someone looped the video and put it up on YouTube so here it is while it lasts.