California man accused of punching Asian American couple, threatening US Olympian in park

U.S. & World

CORONA, Calif. (KTLA) — A California man accused of physically assaulting a Korean American couple and threatening a Japanese American Olympic athlete has been arrested, authorities said Monday.

Michael Vivona, 25, is accused of punching the two elderly Korean Americans in the face Sunday at Grijalva Park in Orange, California, the same place where he is accused of targeting U.S. Olympic karate athlete Sakura Kokumai on April 1, according to police.

Kokumai, a Los Angeles native who will compete in the Tokyo games, posted a video to Instagram earlier this month showing the tense encounter. The man, whom police have since identified as Vivona, is seen making physical threats against her and later shouting a racial slur as he leaves.

“I was aware about the anti-Asian hate that was going on. You see it almost every day on the news,” Kokumai told KTLA less than a week later. “But I didn’t think it would happen to me at a park I usually go to to train.”

According to police, Vivona was arrested Sunday and booked into Orange County Jail in connection with both incidents. He is suspected of elder abuse, a hate crime and making physical threats.

Kokumai said one woman at the park did come up and ask if she was OK, but everyone else seemed to just ignore the situation. She said that’s why she decided to go public with the encounter.

“I do know the responsibility of having the platform and being an athlete representing the U.S., so I really thought it’s important to raise awareness,” she said. “This is happening. This is real.”

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