Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday apologized for ordering too much food for their staff during the opening ceremony and letting it go to waste after videos of trucks carting off boxes of uneaten food went viral online.
Thousands of untouched lunch boxes and rice balls have been discarded at the stadium as a decision to hold the Games without spectators slashed the number of volunteers there, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television reported late last week.
The report was particularly embarrassing for organizers as they have long pitched Tokyo 2020 as the sustainable Games and say on their own web page that "Tokyo 2020 aims to minimize the adverse impact of resource waste". That line was included under the headline "Resource Management: 'Zero Wasting'".
Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said on Wednesday it was true that there was a surplus of food during the opening ceremony.
"From this week, measures to optimize (food) orders are being implemented at each of the venues, (and) we regret that large amount of over-ordering has occurred up until now," he said, clarifying, however, that surplus food was not disposed but recycled into animal feed and other uses.
The broadcaster's videos of untouched lunch boxes and bread getting chucked into a large bin sparked an instant uproar on social media and beyond.
"This can't be happening. There are people out there who are so hard pressed in this coronavirus pandemic that they don't have enough to eat," one Twitter user wrote.