Tokyo governor says Olympics facing 'major issue' after Mori's sexist remarks
TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Friday, February 25, the Olympic Games were facing a “major issue” after the head of the organising committee made sexist remarks and as criticism of his comments showed no sign of abating.
Yoshiro Mori, 83, set off a firestorm on social media both at home and abroad this week with comments that women talked too much, remarks made in a meeting with the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) that he later retracted and apologised for but refused to resign over.
The row casts an additional shadow over the Tokyo Games, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, especially with less than half a year left before the opening ceremony.
“The mission of the metropolis and the organising committee is to prepare for a safe and secure Games, and we are facing a major issue,” Koike said.
She also said she’d heard the Tokyo government was fielding complaint calls from city residents.
“I myself was struck speechless by his comments, which should not have been made.”
Anger over Mori’s comments is likely to further alienate a Japanese public wary of Tokyo’s attempts to hold the Games during a pandemic. Nearly 80 percent of the public opposes holding the Games in July, according to the most recent poll.
The International Olympic Committee said on Thursday that Mori’s apology had settled the issue, but criticism of Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, continued on Friday.
Yasuhiro Yamashita, head of the JOC, said Mori’s comments went against the Olympic spirit and were inappropriate, Kyodo news agency reported.
“There’s all kinds of criticism. I would hope that people grasp the fact that (preparation for) the Games must proceed with the understanding and cooperation of people around the world,” Japan’s top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.
He said the government’s understanding was that the IOC considered the matter closed.
Angry and frustrated Japanese athletes, activists and ordinary women see Mori’s remarks as a clear signal that gender equality in Japanese sports, and society as a whole, remains a distant dream.