Will Smith refused to leave the Oscars 2022 ceremony after slapping Chris Rock, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said on Wednesday after its board of governors met to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Oscar winning actor for violating the ceremony’s code of conduct.

“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently,” said the Academy in a statement after Wednesday’s meeting.

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Although a spokesperson for the Academy refused to comment on what steps had been taken to remove Smith from the audience, the statement is understood to be a response to criticisms about Smith’s continued presence at the awards ceremony after the slapping incident.

While the Academy had earlier condemned Smith’s actions after the incident, a statement released after Wednesday’s meeting used strong words to condemn the incident even further.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event,” the Academy said in a statement.

The Academy’s statement comes days after Will Smith personally apologised to Chris Rock after slapping him for a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

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“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” Smith had written on his Instagram account on Monday.

The Academy has given Smith time till April 18 to file a written response explaining his conduct before the board of governors meets again to discuss possible disciplinary action against the actor.