Shizuka Arakawa, Olympic gold medallist in figure skating (file photo) (epa)
March 7, 2006 -- Japan's sports minister has apologized for saying he was happy to see a Russian figure skater fall at last month's Turin Winter Olympics.
The tumble by two-time world champion Irina Slutskaya cleared the way for Japanese skater Shizuka Arakawa to become the first Asian woman to win an Olympic gold medal for figure skating. It also marked Japan's only medal at the Turin Olympics.
Meeting Arakawa after her victory, Sports Minister Kenji Kosaka said he felt happy after Slutskaya fell because he knew her misfortune would secure Arakawa's gold.
In a statement on his website, Kosaka apologized to both Arakawa and Slutskaya.