Yoshiro Mori resigned Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee following sexist comments implying women talk too much.
“As of today I will resign from the president’s position,” he said to open an executive board and council meeting. The board was expected to pick his successor later on Friday. Mori was appointed in 2014, just months after Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympics.
“My inappropriate comments have caused a lot of chaos,”he said. He repeated several times he had regret over the remarks, but also said he had “no intention of neglecting women.”
Mori’s departure comes after more than a week of non-stop criticism about his remarks earlier this month. He initially apologized but refused to step away, which was followed by relentless pressure from television pundits, sponsors, and an on-line petition that drew 150,000 signatures.
But it’s not clear that his resignation will clear the air and return the focus to exactly how Tokyo can hold the Olympics in just over five months in the midst of a pandemic.
The Olympics are to open on July 23, with 11,000 athletes and 4,400 more in the Paralympic a month later. About 80 percent in recent polls in Japan say they want the Olympics canceled or postponed with clear support at about 15 percent.
Early reports said the 83-year-old Mori had picked 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, the former president of the governing body of Japanese soccer and a former player himself. He played for Japan in the 1964 Olympics.
Kawabuchi is even older than Mori and will raise the issue of why a woman was not appointed. This is the center of the entire debate that Mori triggered over gender inequality in Japan and the absence of women in boardrooms, politics, and sports governance. Women are also largely absence in leadership roles at the organizing committee. SOVEREIGNPH