Musician Says He Was Cut From Olympics Opening Ceremony Because He’s Black

by : Julia Banim on : 23 Jul 2021 13:40
Musician Says He Was Cut From Olympics Opening Ceremony Because He's Blacklatyrsyofficial/Instagram/PA

A Senegalese musician has claimed that he was cut from the Olympics Opening Ceremony as organisers hadn’t wanted a Black face in the event.

Percussionist Latyr Sy, who has lived in Japan for over 20 years, had been due to perform at the ceremony, held at Tokyo’s National Stadium.


Sy was reportedly booked for the show back in December, with organisers sending him the rehearsal schedule in April. He was given instructions to keep his diary free, as well as an agreement to keep plans for the show under wraps.

Tokyo Olympic Games (PA Images)PA Images

Sy was instructed to take his temperature every day in the run-up to the games, in order to check for potential symptoms of coronavirus.

However, as per The Independent, everything changed in May after Sy made enquiries about delays with his contract.


In a subsequent meeting, Sy says a PR company told him that the organisers had decided to exclude him altogether, and had questioned why an African musician should perform in the show.

A representative reportedly told Sy that the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee had been concerned that, if an African musician was allowed to perform, they would have no choice but to hire people from a variety of different ethnicities and nationalities.

Tokyo Olympic Games (PA Images)PA Images

Discussing the decision with The Independent, Sy said:


It’s totally racist. I was told they said ‘Why this guy? Why this African guy?’ I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I’ve felt a lot of things, but this just doesn’t fit with the Olympics. Why should I be silent?

Sy was saddened after watching the televised rehearsal when it became clear that his part was still included, and that another Senegalese musician had been cut from the ceremony.

He continued:

When I saw it I just felt sad. I’m from a small island, a slave island called Goree. I lived in this country for more than 20 years and this scandalous Olympics… it hurts. I’m afraid to talk but I’m just ready to let it out.

I want to share my story. I’m not trying to blame anybody, we just have to let the people know this happened.


Sy has previously travelled all around the world playing his music on behalf of the Japanese government and has also played with various well-known Japanese artists.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, no-article-matching, Olympics


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Tokyo 2020 organisers accused of excluding Olympic opening ceremony musician for being black