Japanese news outlets including the Kyodo news agency announced that the former Japanese Prime Minister will resign on Friday, February 11, when the committee’s executive board meets.
The 83-year-old had made the sexist remarks during an online meeting of the committee’s board of trustees earlier this month, where he also said women are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.”
“When one of them raises her hand, they probably think they have to say something, too. And then everyone says something. If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying.”Yoshiro Mori
In an interview after the incident, Mr Mori apologized. He also retracted his words acknowledging it was inappropriate and initially suggested he could resign.
“I had no intention to disrespect women. I believe I must carry out my responsibility, but if calls for my resignation grow, I may have to resign. It was careless of me, and I would like to apologize.”
However, in a news conference after that, the Olympic Games President said he was not thinking about resigning. He acknowledged that his comments were “inappropriate” and against the Olympic spirit.
“I am not thinking to resign. I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”
When pressed on whether he really thought women talked too much during the news conference, he replied, “I don’t listen to women that much lately, so I don’t know.”
Mr Mori’s comments have drawn sharp criticism in parliament, where some opposition politicians demanded he quit. On Tuesday February 9, female opposition party legislators attended the Lower House session clad in white to protest against Mori’s actions. The all-white outfits symbolise women’s fight for equality in Japan.
The remarks also caused a backlash on social media and a petition circulated calling for Mr Mori’s resignation. One of Japan’s most prominent sports stars, tennis player Naomi Osaka, criticized the comments as “ignorant”.
“I feel like that was a really ignorant statement to make. I think that someone that makes comments like that, they need to have more knowledge on the thing that they’re talking about.”
The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) decided in 2019 to aim for more than 40% female members on the board, but there are just five women among its 24 members. Mr Mori’s remarks came when he was asked about the presence of few women on the board.
He is reportedly set to be replaced by former Japan Football Association President and Mayor of the Olympics village, Saburo Kawabuchi.
It is the latest setback for this year’s Games, set to go ahead on 23rd July despite polls that revealed that 80% of Japanese believe the tournament should be postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic. The event has already been pushed back once after it was cancelled in 2020.
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