Tokyo Olympics boss Mori to resign over sexist remarks

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Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori is to resign after he sparked outrage in Japan and abroad by claiming that women talk too much in meetings, reports said Thursday.

The decision comes after a barrage of criticism from politicians to sports stars and is the latest headache for organizers as they battle public disquiet over plans to hold the Games this summer despite the pandemic.

Multiple Japanese media outlets, citing anonymous sources, said the 83-year-old has told officials he wishes to step down and will announce his resignation at a meeting of Games organizers on Friday.

His most likely successor is Saburo Kawabuchi, an 84-year-old long-time sports administrator, local media reported.

Gaffe-prone Mori, a former prime minister, has come under increasing pressure since remarks he made last week to members of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

“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.

He has apologized for the sexist remarks — but insisted he was repeating complaints made by others, and dug a deeper hole when he explained that he “doesn’t speak to women much”.

Public broadcaster NHK and other media said Mori met Kawabuchi Thursday to ask him to take on the role of president.

Kawabuchi, who currently serves in the symbolic role of Olympic Village mayor, reportedly accepted Mori’s request.

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“If I am elected as president, I would make my utmost efforts,” NHK quoting him as saying after the talks.

A former footballer, Kawabuchi played a large part in popularising the game in Japan in the 1990s.

He played for Japan when the country last hosted the Olympics, in 1964, scoring a goal against Argentina.

Mori’s resignation would cap more than a week of controversy about his remarks.

Tokyo 2020, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the resignation reports, will hold a special meeting tomorrow of its council and executive board.

The meeting was called to allow officials to “express their opinions” on Mori’s remarks and discuss “future gender equality initiatives of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee”, organizers said.