Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee, announced his resignation on Friday February 12 after the outcry sparked by sexist comments made last week.
“My inappropriate statements caused a lot of trouble […]. I wish to resign from the presidency today ”, Yoshiro Mori, 83, said at a Tokyo-2020 executive board meeting.
The former Japanese prime minister (2000-2001), known for his propensity for blunders, said last week that women had difficulty speaking concisely in meetings, which he found “Annoying”.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held “with or without” the Covid, says the IOC
He awkwardly apologized the next day, while initially ruling out resigning. But an avalanche of criticism followed in Japan and abroad. Sportsmen, politicians and sponsors of the Olympic Games had notably stepped up to the plate, denouncing remarks contrary to gender equality and the values of Olympism.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also ended up judging on Tuesday that Yoshiro Mori’s words had been “Completely inappropriate”, after initially considering that the case was closed in view of his apologies.
A scrutinized succession
Yoshiro Mori had suggested Thursday that Saburo Kawabuchi, former Japanese football boss, succeed him. But the proposal – made outside of a formal nomination process – has cringe, 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi being even older than Yoshiro Mori.
Saburo Kawabuchi had initially said he was ready to take over, but according to Japanese media this Friday, he changed his mind in the face of criticism and reluctance from the government on his appointment.
Tokyo-2020 will make a decision “While listening to the opinions of a number of people”, assured the organization, judging “Desirable” to follow a “Formal process”.
The Mori affair is a new thorn in the side of the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, who were already struggling to rekindle enthusiasm for the event (23 July-8 August 2021), postponed last year because of the pandemic, while the global health context remains worrying.