12 women added to Tokyo Olympics executive board

12 women added to Tokyo Olympics executive board
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The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee on Tuesday added 12 women to its executive board, a symbolic gesture after the group’s former president resigned last month amid outcry over sexist comments about female board members. 

The Associated Press reported that the size of the board was increased from 35 to 45 to allow for the additional women, with several resignations on Tuesday also providing room for the new members.

The board, which previously included just 20 percent women, now has 19 female members, bringing female representation on the leadership body up to 42 percent, the AP noted. 

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Tokyo Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto announced the changes following an executive board meeting, and the news service reported that the names of the new members are expected Wednesday. 

Muto added that the board will now have one female vice president among seven total. 

Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympian who was named president of the organizing committee last month, said when she took on the new role that she would increase female participation on the committee’s executive board.

“Regarding the promotion of gender equality, we believe that it is necessary to work with a sense of speed and produce solid results in order to restore the trust in the organizing committee,” Hashimoto said at Tuesday’s board meeting. 

Hashimoto’s appointment last month came nearly a week after former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori resigned as president of the Tokyo Olympics committee following backlash over sexist comments he made about women talking too much at board meetings.

Mori at an earlier committee meeting had suggested that women’s speaking time be regulated.

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“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 said at the time. 

The 83-year-old later apologized for his remarks, which he called “inappropriate,” adding he had "no intention of neglecting women.” 

The Tokyo Olympics committee is facing additional scrutiny over its ability to begin events as planned on July 23 as the coronavirus pandemic persists in Japan and around the world. 

The AP reported Tuesday that Hashimoto is scheduled to participate in a “five-party meeting” with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other leaders to discuss whether fans will be allowed into Olympic venues, as well as if spectators from other countries will be allowed into Japan amid the pandemic.