Tokyo Olympics chief resigns following sexist remarks

Tokyo Olympics chief resigns following sexist remarks
© Photo by TAKASHI AOYAMA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympics committee overseeing the upcoming games, resigned Friday amid an outcry over sexist comments he made about women talking too much at board meetings.

"As of today, I will resign from the president's position," Mori said during an executive board and council meeting, according to ABC News. "My inappropriate comments have caused a lot of chaos." 

He reportedly expressed regret over the remarks and said he had "no intention of neglecting women."

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"The important thing is to have the Tokyo Olympics open in July," he added. "In order to make the games a success, I cannot be an obstacle to the preparations."

The 83-year-old former Japanese prime minister is expected to be replaced by former Japan Football Association President Saburo Kawabuchi. However, Toshiro Muto, chief executive officer of the organizing committee, said there has been "no concrete discussion" yet about Kawabuchi assuming the role.

"We will pick a successor as soon as possible," Muto said, as reported by Japanese public broadcaster NHK. “We need to ensure that the process to appoint a successor will be transparent, as established by the executive board."

Muto described Mori’s remarks about women as "extremely inappropriate.” However, the official noted that Mori offered “significant contributions” to the plans.

"Many things were possible because of him. That is a fact," he said.

The committee released a statement after Mori’s resignation addressing “concern” about the president leaving just months before the torch is lit.

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"We ensure you that we will proceed with the appointment of a successor in a swift and transparent manner in order to limit the impact on our preparation for the Games," the committee said. "We will also consider specific actions to take, in light of opinions and recommendations voiced at today's gathering, regarding how we can use this opportunity to further promote gender equality in society.”

Mori made the controversial remarks during a virtual committee meeting earlier this month while responding to a question on the committee's plan to increase female representation on the board.

"On boards with a lot of women, the board meetings take so much time," Mori reportedly 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.

He also said that 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." 

Mori apologized for the comments but initially refused to resign, saying that he has “been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years.”

The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23 after being delayed a year amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, some have expressed concerns that the games could spread infections if they are held as planned.