Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee Chairman Yoshiro Mori is set to step down following an outcry in Japan and abroad over his sexist remarks last week, Japanese media reported Thursday.
Several major Japanese media, citing sources familiar with the matter, claimed that Yoshiro Mori, 83, had informed officials of his willingness to step down and announced it during a meeting of Tokyo-2020 organizers on Friday.
Words deemed “completely inappropriate”
Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old former Japanese prime minister known for his verbal slippages, said last week that women have difficulty speaking in a concise manner, which is “annoying.” He awkwardly apologized the next day, while initially ruling out resigning.
An avalanche of criticism had followed in Japan and abroad. Even sponsors of the Olympics, usually discreet, have stepped up in recent days, such as the automotive giant Toyota, also claiming that Yoshiro Mori’s remarks were contrary to the Olympic spirit and the values they support.
At first, after the apology of Yoshiro Mori, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had judged the case closed, before estimating Tuesday that his words were “completely inappropriate”, while the reactions were more and more sharp .
An online petition against Yoshiro Mori
This scandal is a new thorn in the side of the Tokyo-2020 organizers, who were already struggling to rekindle enthusiasm for the Games (23 July-8 August 2021), postponed last year because of the pandemic, while the global health context remains worrying.
Athletes such as Japanese female tennis star Naomi Osaka, Olympic volunteers, elected members of the parliamentary opposition in Japan or even members of embassy staff in Tokyo have all protested in various ways in recent days after the affair. Mori.
The mayor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, also increased the pressure on Wednesday by announcing that she did not intend to attend a meeting of all the stakeholders of the Olympics scheduled for later this month, against the backdrop of Yoshiro Mori’s comments.
Launched a week ago, an online petition urging those in charge of the Olympic Games not to stand idly by exceeded 146,000 signatures on Thursday. Tokyo-2020 organizers are scheduled to meet on Friday to “express their views on Yoshiro Mori’s remarks” and discuss their “future initiatives” on gender equality, according to a statement released Wednesday.
Saburo Kawabuchi would be his successor
According to Japanese television channels TBS and NTV, former soccer player Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, could be appointed in place of Yoshiro Mori. Saburo Kawabuchi played a key role in the 1990s in developing professional football and popularizing the sport in Japan. He also currently holds the symbolic function of mayor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village.