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After ex chief’s resignation over sexism controversy, Tokyo Olympics appoints female president

By BROOKE VILLANUEVA Published Feb 19, 2021 11:13 am

Seiko Hashimoto—a former Olympic minister and woman athlete—is Tokyo 2020’s new president. 

Her appointment came after then chief Yoshiro Mori’s resignation, following the sexist comments he made about women. In a meeting, he said that they “need to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” should the Japanese Olympic Committee make the decision to add more females to their team. 

It prompted calls for him to step down from his post, which he initially played down after his apology. He made the move later on as the issue “has done ‘serious reputational damage’ to the Tokyo Olympics,” a top source told Reuters.

Hashimoto, his successor who participated in four Winter Olympics as a speed skater and three Summer Olympics as a cyclist, submitted her resignation as Olympics minister to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier this week. Suga, in turn, had nothing but “kind words” for her.

“I, Seiko Hashimoto, was selected as head of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee,” she announced in a meeting. “As I’m taking on such a grave responsibility, I feel I need to brace myself.” 

She added that she “will spare no effort for the success of the Tokyo Games.” 

Considering countermeasures against COVID-19 an utmost priority, she promised to strive to “ensure that the public, both domestically and abroad, feel this is going to be a safe and secure Olympic Games.”

CBS News described her appointment as a "breakthrough for gender equality" in Japan as "women are still rare in boardrooms and positions of political power" in the country. "Japan ranks 121st out of 153 countries on the World Economic Forum's annual gender equality ranking," they reported.

Article thumbnails from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games' official website