Tokyo Olympics official resigns after demeaning comments about female performer

Tokyo Olympics official resigns after demeaning comments about female performer
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A Tokyo Olympics official resigned Thursday after previous demeaning comments he made about a female, Japanese opening ceremonies performer resurfaced.

Last year, the Olympics’s creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, referred to entertainer Naomi Watanabe as an “Olympig” to make fun of her weight when discussing her role in the opening ceremony, The Associated Press reported.

“For Ms. Naomi Watanabe, my idea and comments are a big insult. And it is unforgivable,” Sasaki said. “I offer my deepest regrets and apologize from the depth of my heart to her, and those who may have been offended by this."

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“It is truly regrettable, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he added.

Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, accepted Sasaki's resignation but said she had asked him to stay on the committee.

“I did feel that way but he explained, and his intention was very strong,” Hashimoto said. “That is how I felt. For those reasons I decided to accept his resignation.”

Sasaki’s job on the committee had been to plan the opening and closing ceremonies for the games, which have been beleaguered by problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, including being canceled last year and rescheduled for this summer.

His resignation follows that of Yoshiro Mori, former president of the organizing committee, last month over sexist remarks.

The committee is still working on details on how to protect attendees from the coronavirus at the Olympics. It is expected to make an announcement at the end of the month banning foreign fans from the games.

Tokyo is lifting its coronavirus state of emergency on Friday in a promising move, but experts are concerned cases will spike again before the games.