Seiko Hashimoto, the current government Olympic minister who was also an bronze medalist in speedskating in the 1992 Albertville Games, may replace Yoshiro Mori who resigned as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee on Friday after sexist comments made last week.
Mori, a former prime minister, was criticized for saying women “talk too much.”
Hashimoto is said fit all the bills — female, a former Olympian, and she’s been around the organizing committee.
But on Thursday, 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, the former head of the governing body of Japanese soccer, gave interviews and said he had talked with the 83-year-old Mori and was likely to be his successor.
That news — that another elderly man was taking over — exploded Friday morning on national television and social media. A few hours later, Kawabuchi withdrew his candidacy at the board meeting and told Muto to make it public.
“He (Kawabuchi) is not thinking of becoming president, even if he is asked he will decline,” Muto said.
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 commentators, sponsors and an online petition that drew 150,000 signatures.
“As of today I will resign from the president’s position,” Mori said to open an executive board and council meeting.
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, repeating several times he had regret over the remarks, but also said he had “no intention of neglecting women.”
“As long as I remain in this position, it causes trouble,” he told the board. “If that is the case, it will ruin everything we’ve built up.”
Muto was asked repeatedly if Mori would have a behind the scenes role as an advisor, which seems logical.
“Currently we are not discussing any position for him,” Muto said.
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.