Tokyo Olympics chief to stop over sexist outcry; anointed successor pulls out

Tokyo, February 12

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori is expected to resign on Friday over sexist comments but who will replace him remains open after his hand-picked successor was forced to turn down the job under public criticism, local media reported.

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.

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.

Mori has apologised for his comments but has so far not resigned despite growing calls for him to step down.

His resignation, less than six months before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin, is likely to raise new doubts over the viability of holding the postponed Games this year. Reuters

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