Tokyo 2020's Mori to quit, sources say, as he vows to end controversy

Tokyo Olympics chief ‘will QUIT’ after sparking sexism row by declaring ‘annoying’ women ‘talk too much’

  • Yoshiro Mori, an ex-prime minister, is set to quit the Tokyo organising committee
  • His remark about women ‘talking too much’ last week set off a storm of criticism
  • The 83-year-old told Japanese TV that ‘I cannot let this prolong any longer’ 

The head of the Tokyo Olympics is poised to resign in a sexism row after saying that ‘annoying’ women talk too much in meetings. 

Two sources said today that Yoshiro Mori would step down after his comments set off a storm of criticism at home and abroad – with the former Japanese PM saying that he could not let the controversy drag on.  

Mori’s resignation from the Tokyo organising committee would be bound to raise new doubts over the viability of holding the postponed 2020 Games this year.

The sources, who have knowledge of the matter, said Mori would be replaced by former Japan Football Association president and mayor of the Olympic village, Saburo Kawabuchi.

Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori speaks at a press conference today where he apologised for his sexist comments but refused to step down from the organising committee 

Mori, 83, told Nippon TV he would ‘explain his thoughts’ at a meeting on Friday but he had to deal with the issue. He did not confirm the reports that he would step down.

‘I cannot let this problem prolong any longer,’ Mori said, and he again apologised for the remark.

A spokesman for the organising committee declined to comment.

Mori first retracted the comment about women at a hastily called news conference on February 4, acknowledging it was inappropriate and against the Olympic spirit.

He did not dispute the Japanese media reports which said he had complained that ‘board of directors meetings with many women take a lot of time’.

‘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 was quoted as saying. 

He made the remarks to members of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), some of whom were reported to have laughed in response.  

But he declined, at the time of last week’s press conference, to resign.

Pressed on whether he really thought women talked too much, Mori said: ‘I don’t listen to women that much lately, so I don’t know’.

Mori served as prime minister for a gaffe-plagued year from April 2000.

His comment on women drew sharp criticism in parliament, where opposition lawmakers demanded his resignation, and from the public on social media.

The Olympic rings are seen in Tokyo on Tuesday, only weeks before the postponed torch relay is due to begin – with the opening ceremony of the Games scheduled for July 23 

The 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed for a year because of the coronavirus and the pandemic is still creating huge questions about their viability, even though the government has said it is determined the July 23-Aug 8 Games go ahead.

Even before last year’s postponement, ballooning costs and a plagiarism scandal involving the official logo bedevilled preparations.

But the coronavirus has proven to be the biggest threat.

Nearly 80 per cent of the public are opposed to holding the Games this year because of concern about the coronavirus, recent polls show.

Current Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga has said coronavirus vaccines are key to a safe Olympics and he said on Wednesday the vaccination drive would begin in the middle of next week.

Japan’s vaccination campaign is later than in most major economies and any delay could sow doubts about a government aim to secure enough doses for everyone before the Olympics.

If Mori does step down, it would the first time an Olympics organising committee president has not seen the job through to a Summer Games since the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki led the successful Athens bid but was pushed aside by the government, which appointed Panagiotis Thomopoulos organising committee president. 

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki replaced Thomopoulos after the International Olympic Committee warned Greece they could lose the Games because of poor progress with preparations.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was the first woman to run an organising committee for an Olympics.

Source: Read Full Article