Tokyo Games boss resigns after sexist comments

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Tokyo | Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics, announced his resignation on Friday after an outcry over his sexist remarks last week, but the question of his successor remains unresolved.

“My inappropriate statements caused a lot of trouble (…). I want to step down from the presidency today, ”Mori, 83, said Friday at a Tokyo-2020 executive council meeting.

“What is important is to organize the Games in July. My presence must not become an obstacle ”to this objective, said this former Prime Minister of Japan (2000-2001).

Mr Mori had said last week that women had difficulty speaking in a concise manner in meetings, which he found “annoying”.

He awkwardly apologized the next day, while initially ruling out resigning. But a deluge of criticism followed in Japan and abroad.

Sportsmen, politicians and sponsors of the Olympic Games had notably stepped up to the plate, denouncing remarks contrary to gender equality and the values ​​of Olympism.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also ended up judging Tuesday that Mr. Mori’s words had been “completely inappropriate”, after initially considering that the case was closed in view of his apologies.

Mr. Mori had suggested Thursday that Saburo Kawabuchi, former big boss of Japanese football, succeed him.

But the proposal – made outside of a formal appointment process – has made people cringe, with Mr. Kawabuchi, 84, being even older than Mr. Mori.

Mr. Kawabuchi had initially said he was ready to take over, but according to Japanese media on Friday, he changed his mind in the face of criticism and reluctance from the government on his appointment.

The Mori affair is a new thorn in the side of the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, who were already struggling to rekindle enthusiasm for the event (23 July-8 August 2021), postponed last year because of the pandemic, while the global health context remains worrying.