The president of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee has apologised for “inappropriate” comments about women being “annoying” in board meetings, but says he will not resign.
- Tokyo Olympic organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said a “board meeting with plenty of women will make it drag on”
- The hashtag “Mori, please resign” trended on Twitter in Japan
- The committee’s director, Kaori Yamaguchi, said Mr Mori’s comments were “unfortunate”
Yoshiro Mori sparked a backlash with comments that women board members talked too much.
He told reporters his remarks were at odds with the Olympic spirit.
Mori, a former Japanese prime minister and current head of the Tokyo committee organising the postponed Summer Games, caused an uproar with remarks that board meetings with women took too long because they talked too much, which he said was “annoying”.
The comments were sparked by a Japanese Olympic Committee plan to increase the number of women on its board.
“The Education Ministry has been very insistent about choosing female directors. But a board meeting with plenty of women will make it drag on,” Mr Mori said.
“Women have a strong sense of rivalry. If one [female] member raises her hand to speak, all the others feel the need to speak, too. Everyone ends up saying something.”
He later admitted that he may need to resign over the comments, which drew much criticism.
Japan Olympic Committee director Kaori Yamaguchi said the comments were “unfortunate” considering they were coming from the president of the organising committee.
“Gender equality and consideration for people with disabilities were supposed to be a given for the Tokyo Games,” Ms Yamaguchi said.
“It is unfortunate to see the President of the organising committee make such a remark.”
Mr Mori’s comments also caused immediate furore on social media, where the hashtag “Mori, please resign” was trending on Twitter in Japan on Thursday morning.
In an apparent protest of Mr Mori’s comments, Noriko Mizoguchi, a former judo Olympic silver medallist, tweeted the International Olympic Committee’s code of ethics and said that any type of harassment should be rejected.
Renho, a prominent opposition politician, called Mr Mori’s remarks “shameful”.
“His comments run counter to the spirit of Olympics that denounces discrimination and calls for friendship, solidarity and fairness,” she said in a tweet.
Anger over Mr Mori’s comments is likely to further alienate a Japanese public that has grown increasingly wary of Tokyo’s attempts to hold the Games during a pandemic.
Nearly 80 per cent of the Japanese public opposes holding the Games as scheduled in July, according to the most recent poll.