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Tokyo Games committee head Mori formally announces his resignation over ‘sexist’ remark


The president of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, 83, announced Friday that he would resign from the post to take responsibility for an inappropriate remark that could be interpreted as sexist.

The announcement was made at an emergency meeting of the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games convened Friday afternoon by its executive board members and councillors. The committee plans to form a panel to elect a new president. Processes for picking a successor and measures to prevent a recurrence of such an issue were to be discussed at the meeting.

Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, supreme advisor of the Japan Football Association, on Thursday expressed his intention to accept Mori’s request to take over the post, but reversed his position Friday to decide not to accept the post. The committee’s articles of incorporation stipulate the president shall be selected by a resolution of executive board members. The selection panel will pick Mori’s successor, and the board will make an official decision. A senior member said the committee would like to “settle the issue in about a week, and women should comprise half of the selection panel.”

According to committee sources, Mori told International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Thursday night over the phone that he would resign from his post.

 

■ Growing criticism

It was criticism both at home and abroad that ousted Mori.

At first, Mori and the committee thought they would be able to overcome the situation even if he stayed on, resulting in a reactive approach. As the committee has depended on Mori’s personal skills, it may find it challenging to manage without him.

During the eight days following his controversial remark Feb. 3, Mori’s feelings had been ambivalent.

According to sources, prior to a press conference held on Feb. 4 when Mori withdrew his remark, he told the committee’s executives about his intention to resign. It is said that Mori was urged by one of his grandchildren to quit, but was persuaded by those around him to stay on. He listened to his aides.

The committee’s executive members later called Mori and found him “nonchalant,” according to an aide. Such an attitude made them believe that Mori’s mention of quitting was “a stock-standard line, and he would surely stay on,” seeing the situation optimistically.

Mori told his aides on Monday: “I got what I deserved. People around me are encouraging me, so I have no choice but to keep going.”

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said on Feb. 5: “I was appalled. It was an intolerable remark.” But according to a senior metropolitan government official, she was going to decide what to do after the committee’s emergency meeting Friday.

Criticism, however, erupted in various fields. Athletes such as Satomi Suzuki, who won silver in breaststroke at the London 2012 Olympics, said on Feb. 4: “It’s disappointing. I’m angry too.” Mori’s remark also caused some Games volunteers to suddenly withdraw.

The criticism spread overseas. NBC, which has a monopoly in broadcasting rights for the Games in the United States, posted an article on its website Wednesday saying that Mori should leave.

What was decisive was the reaction of Games sponsors. Toyota Motor Corp. shared a comment from President Akio Toyoda, who was absent, at an earnings press conference Wednesday saying that “we are disappointed.”

NHK reported Tuesday night that 36 out of the 54 Games sponsor companies that responded to NHK’s inquiries said they could not tolerate Mori’s remark.

“Seeing the level of criticism in figures was a blow,” a senior Liberal Democratic Party official said. “He’s cornered and realizes he can’t stay on anymore.”

Published : February 13, 2021

By : The Japan News/ANN