Terry Frei, a Denver sportswriter, was fired for an allegedly racist statement directed at Takuma Sato -- the Japanese driver who bested rivals at the Indianapolis 500 and was first across the finish line. Frei sent a tweet after Sato’s victory stating that he was “uncomfortable” about the win. "Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend," he wrote.
OK, I took out the name of a book. pic.twitter.com/b953FbqMEh— Terry Frei (@TFrei) May 29, 2017
His remark immediately reverberated on social media and stirred a storm of controversy. On post on Twitter read: “Unacceptable! Immediate response is absolutely necessary. Terry Freid is a racist and his reporting shows it.” As tweets called for Frei’s firing, Daniel Scheid tweeted, “Terry Fried: nothing specifically personal but I hope the Denver Post fires you.”
On Sunday, Frei issued an apology and wrote: "THIS is what Memorial Day is about. Dave Schreiner's death in Battle of Okinawa. Not for squeamish or 'sensitive.'" The reference was to Schreiner, who died while serving during the Second World War with Frei’s father. Frei has written about him earlier. Ultimately, Frei deleted his tweets and replaced them with the words: “I apologize.”
Frei also released a statement in which he sought to explain his "perspective." "I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father's teammates," he wrote. Frei also wrote that he has photos Schreiner carried of his family and girlfriend at the time of his death. "That is part of my perspective.”
After apologizing to the people he allegedly "offended," Frei also apologized to Sato. The Denver Post released a statement in which it apologized for the "disrespectful and unacceptable tweet."
"Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post," the statement added.
Sato is the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500, after outpacing more than 30 other cars. So far, Sato has not commented.