February 11, 2021
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, apologizes for his sexist remarks during a Feb. 4 news conference. (Pool)
Yoshiro Mori will step down as head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee following a week of widespread criticism over his sexist remarks, several sources said on Feb. 11.
A former prime minister, Mori, 83, cause an uproar both in Japan and abroad when he said on Feb. 3 at a Japan Olympic Committee Council meeting that having more women on sporting association committees would lead to longer meetings because of their competitiveness and need to have their voices heard.
Although he apologized and retracted his comment the following day, he rejected calls to step down. That decision only fueled the criticism against him.
The sources said Mori told them that he would resign from the post.
One name being mentioned as a possible successor is Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, a former president of the Japan Football Association and Japan Basketball Association. Kawabuchi is in charge of the Athletes’ Village for the Tokyo Olympics.
Mori’s remarks came at a time when doubts were rising on whether the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, already postponed from last year, could be held this summer amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Many pointed out that Mori’s comments violated the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic movement, as well as the Olympic Charter, which is clearly opposed to any form of discrimination based on race, gender or religion.
Mori did not help his cause by showing frustration at reporters who repeatedly asked him during the Feb. 4 news conference if he would step down.
Hundreds of Olympic volunteers later withdrew their intent to help out at the Games. The Tokyo metropolitan government said it was flooded with emails and phone calls protesting Mori’s remarks.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Feb. 8 that the comments by Mori did not help Japan’s interests.
The International Olympic Committee also released a statement the following day describing Mori’s comments as “absolutely inappropriate.”