Tokyo, February 12
Tokyo, February 12
Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori resigned on Friday and again apologised for his sexist remarks that sparked a global outcry, leaving the troubled Olympics searching for a chief five months from the start.
“My inappropriate comments caused a big trouble. I am sorry,” Mori said at an Olympic organising committee meeting.
He said the most important thing now was for the Tokyo Olympics to be a success.
His resignation, only months before the postponed Summer Games are scheduled to begin, will further erode confidence in the organisers’ ability to pull off the event during a coronavirus pandemic.
Mori had tapped 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, who currently serves as the mayor of the Olympic village, to take over the top position, Kawabuchi told reporters earlier.
But the choice prompted questions about whether there was no a better alternative than another older male.
In an extraordinary turn of events, local broadcaster Fuji News Network reported that the government would seek to block the nomination of Kawabuchi as Mori’s replacement after a flood of public criticism both at home and abroad.
“We can’t give the impression that things have changed unless we instal a woman or see a generational shift,” FNN cited a government source as saying.
The Mori controversy has done “serious reputation damage” to the Tokyo Olympics, said one source involved in the Olympics. The source, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said many officials wanted a woman to replace Mori.
Local media said Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, a woman who has represented Japan in both the summer and winter Olympics, was being considered as a possible candidate.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had asked Mori if there was either a younger or a female candidate to succeed but Mori recommended Kawabuchi, Kawabuchi said.
Katsunobu Kato, top government spokesman, said he was not aware of Suga’s conversation with Mori.
Kawabuchi, who initially said he wanted to accept Mori’s request, has decided to walk away, domestic media reported.
Later on Friday, the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, which has not officially commented on Mori’s resignation, plans to hold a meeting of its council and executive board, followed by a press conference.
Mori will explain his position at Friday’s Games meeting, Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told parliament, referring to a phone call with Mori.
Asked whether it is possible for Mori, a departing leader to appoint his own successor, Hashimoto said there needed to be proper procedures to pick next leader for the organising committee.
Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, sparked a global outcry with sexist comments that women talk too much earlier this month, which he made during an Olympic committee meeting. Reuters