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Petition asks that Kanye West be replaced by Canadian at Pan Am closing ceremony

By Paola Loriggio THE CANADIAN PRESS kanye-west

TORONTO _ Not everyone is pleased by the announcement that American rap legend Kanye West will perform at the closing ceremony of the Pan Am Games in Toronto. An online petition asking the organizing committee to change its mind has garnered more than 14,000 supporters as of Thursday morning. The petition posted at change.org says the Games have triggered a sense of pride in the city, and that “It would only be just to ask a proud Torontonian (or even a Canadian for that matter) to perform instead on July 26. Among those suggested in the petition are Drake, Walk Off The Earth, Feist and Metric. “Kanye West’s words and conduct are antithetical to the spirit of the PanAm Games,” one person wrote on the petition. “Canada abounds in musical talent that is undoubtedly better suited for this event and should be featured at the closing ceremonies.” The head of the Games organizing committee said it’s too late to change the lineup _ the contracts have already been signed through Live Nation, a concert promoter and Pan Am sponsor. Saad Rafi defended the decision to book West, saying “major international-calibre events have international artists.” “Let’s not forget, these are the Pan American Games, which include the Americas and the Caribbean. It’s highly appropriate to have artists from those countries of origin,” he said. Rafi stressed that closing ceremonies are meant “predominantly for athletes” rather than the general public, adding that several athletes work out to West’s music. Asked whether organizers would ensure the show was family-friendly, Rafi said Live Nation was “in conversation” with the artists about song selection. Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory made headlines by wishing aloud that organizers had chosen a Canadian for West’s slot _ but only after he was forced to concede that, until now, he’d somehow believed West to be Canadian. West is to be joined at the July 26 show by Miami pop-rapper Pitbull and six-time Juno winning howler Serena Ryder.

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