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Tokyo Olympics chief vows to stay in office after comments about women

Tokyo Olympics chief vows to stay in office after comments about women
© Photo by TAKASHI AOYAMA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee on Thursday apologized for claiming earlier this week that women talk too much at board meetings but refused to resign from the organization.

“I am not thinking to resign,” Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, said, according to multiple reports. “I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”

“The statement made at the Japan Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression, contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” Mori added. “I am deeply remorseful. I would like to withdraw the statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings.” 

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When asked at a  news conference whether he believes women talk too much, Mori responded: “I don’t listen to women that much lately so I don’t know,” Reuters reported.

Mori made the initial claim during a virtual meeting of the of the Japanese Olympic Committee board of directors while responding to a question on the committee’s plan to increase female representation on the board, according to a translated report from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. 

“On boards with a lot of women, the board meetings take so much time,” Mori said at the time.

“Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, 'I need to say something, too.' That’s why everyone speaks,” he added.

“When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” he continued.

He also noted that the women on the Olympic committee should not have their speaking time limited because they “have experienced international arenas.”

The International Olympic Committee board of directors has also said it will not call on Mori to resign following his apology for the sexist comments, according to multiple reports.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are set to open on July 23 after being delayed a year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but concerns are rising they could spread infections if they are held.