A New Zealand television rugby commentator who adopted a mock Asian accent during a post-game interview on Friday is likely to keep his job despite an outpouring of public criticism. (Twitter/Joe Wheeler)

A New Zealand television rugby commentator who adopted a mock Asian accent during a post-game interview on Friday is likely to keep his job despite an outpouring of public criticism. (Twitter/Joe Wheeler)

TV commentator in New Zealand sorry for mocking Asian accent

The incident comes amid a rising tide of anti-Asian violence and rhetoric in the United States and other western nations

A New Zealand television rugby commentator who adopted a mock Asian accent during a post-game interview on Friday is likely to keep his job despite an outpouring of public criticism.

Joe Wheeler, a former New Zealand Maori representative who commentates for the cable network Sky Sport, used the accent after the Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Highlanders and Crusaders.

Speaking with Highlanders flyhalf Mitchell Hunt, Wheeler referenced the performance of Japan international flanker Kazuki Himeno who started a match for the Highlanders for the first time.

Wheeler’s comments included calling Himeno “leally impressive,” triggering swift protests on social media.

Wheeler later apologized on Twitter.

“Tonight I stuffed up!” he said. “I’ve spoken with (Kazuki Himeno) and apologized to him and the Highlanders and our Sky crew.

“I absolutely accept this is not the standard expected of the sideline team. I’ve got some work to do obviously, but I’m absolutely committed to doing better.”

Wheeler played Super Rugby for both the Crusaders and Highlanders and played in Japan for four years for Suntory Sungoliath.

A Sky Sport statement reiterated that Wheeler had apologized to Himeno but made no reference to any employment sanction.

“Joe Wheeler has spoken with Kazuki and apologized to him and to team management,” the statement said. “He absolutely accepts this is not the standard expected of the broadcast team.

“Sky is committed to being culturally respectful and we expect all crew to do the right thing.”

Himeno later indicated he had accepted Wheeler’s apology.

“It’s OK Joe,” he tweeted. “Let’s enjoy and celebrate our big victory.”

The Highlanders won Friday’s match 33-12 after starting as 7-1 outsiders against the unbeaten Crusaders.

Friday’s incident comes amid a rising tide of anti-Asian violence and rhetoric in the United States and other western nations.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read