Women’s synchronized diving at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
- Two Italian commentators will be suspended for racist and sexist remarks made during the women’s synchronized diving event at the World Aquatics Championships in Japan.
- This is the latest incident involving inappropriate remarks made by Italian sports commentators in recent months.
- While the offending duo made references to the athletes’ physical appearance, they also made sexist remarks about women.
Italian state broadcaster RAI said on Monday that two commentators will be suspended for sexist and racist remarks made during a women’s synchronized diving event at the World Aquatics Championships in Japan.
Commenting on the event for the RaiPlay 2 online broadcasting channel, Lorenzo Leonardosi and Massimiliano Mazzocchi commented on the divers’ physical appearance.
It follows an incident in Italy, too, earlier this month when a junior culture minister publicly bragged about his many sexual conquests and praised male genitalia.
Sky Italia also suspended two Formula 1 commentators for sexist comments about a young woman who appeared in the video during the Spanish Grand Prix.
Among the lewd remarks made by the commentators at this week’s Fukuoka tournament, comments were shared about how “big” some divers were, adding, “Anyway, they’re all about the same size in bed.”
Reuters reported that other vulgar material, which could not be translated for publication, indicated a woman’s desire for sex.
They also make fun of the Chinese accent when speaking Italian.
After complaints from viewers, the duo have since been sent home from Fukuoka over what RAI CEO Roberto Sergio, who said disciplinary action had been taken, called “bar jokes” that have no place on public service television.
In a letter to the daily Corriere della Sera, Leonardosi wrote that he was unaware he was on the air at the time and that his remarks did not reflect his true opinions.
Leonardosi had previously been criticized in 2020 for a sexual joke made on air about the title of an Estonian rally driver.
In 2018, RAI also had to reprimand Leonardosi for a Facebook post in which he sent birthday wishes to German dictator Adolf Hitler, who was born on April 20, 1889.
World Aquatics issued a statement endorsing RAI’s decision to ban the journalists.
“World Aquatics fully supports the Italian broadcaster RAI’s decision to suspend two journalists for their commentary during the 2023 World Aquatics Championships – Fukuoka,” the statement stated.
“Aquatic Biologist has zero tolerance for sexism and discrimination in our sports. Comments like this have no place in our society.
“World Aquatics stands behind the athletes and is currently reaching out to targeted individuals.”