Sportswriter 'no longer an employee' after tweet about Japanese Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato

Japanese driver Takuma Sato celebrates after winning the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 in the United States on May 28, 2017.
Japanese driver Takuma Sato celebrates after winning the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 in the United States on May 28, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON - Denver Post publisher Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo issued a statement on Monday that sportswriter Terry Frei is no longer an employee of the newspaper one day after he tweeted that he was "very uncomfortable" with Japanese driver Takuma Sato winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.

"We apologise for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters," the statement reads. "Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post. It's our policy not to comment further on personnel issues. The tweet doesn't represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies."

Frei issued an apology Sunday after facing backlash for his tweet that he later deleted about Sato's historic win.

"Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend," Frei tweeted after Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the prestigious race.

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"I apologise," Frei tweeted hours later. The Denver Post tweeted its own apology on Sunday night and indicated that Frei's tweet "does not reflect the standards and value of our organisation".

Frei later tweeted a lengthier apology, which he deleted and replaced with a slightly revised version to remove the title of one of his books.

"I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend," wrote Frei, whose father was a World War II veteran. Frei was named Colorado sportswriter of the year four times.

 

Here's the full text of Frei's apology:'I fouled up. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said what I said when I said it. I should have known better and I regret it. I in no way meant to represent my employer and I apologised to The Denver Post."On Sunday, I was going down to Fort Logan National Cemetery to place flowers on the grave of and to salute my father, Jerry Frei, who spent the four-year gap between his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin flying the F-5 unarmed version of the one-man P-38 fighter plane in the 26th Photo Squadron. (And I did make that visit.) He flew alone, or with a partner in a second plane, over Japanese targets in advance of the bombing runs. When Blake Olson of Channel 9 asked him about being unarmed, he laughed and said, 'I had a pistol.' He flew 67 missions, crossing the 300 combat hours threshold, and earned the World War II Air Medal three times. I have written much other material about American athletes in World War II. I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father's teammates, Dave Schreiner and Bob Baumann, in the Battle of Okinawa. I have the picture wallet containing photos of his family and girlfriend that Schreiner was carrying when he was killed. That is part of my perspective.

"I am sorry, I made a mistake, and I understand 72 years have passed since the end of World War II and I do regret people with whom I probably am very closely aligned with politically and philosophically have been so offended. To those people, I apologise. (In fact, the assumptions about my political leanings have been quite inaccurate.) I apologise to Takuma Sato. I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II - and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against. Again, I will say I'm sorry, I know better, and I'm angry at myself because there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this.

"Sincerely,"Terry Frei".