TOKYO (JAPAN) – Despite mounting backlash over his sexist remarks, Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori says he will not step down from his position. Mori has, however, apologised for the remarks on Thursday, saying he retracted the comments.
The hashtag “Mori, please resign” was trending on Twitter in Japan on Thursday morning. The 83-year-old Mori, a former Japanese prime minister and head of the Tokyo organising committee, acknowledged that his comments that women board members talked too much were “inappropriate” and against the Olympic spirit.
The comments were made at a Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) board of trustees meeting this week, according to a media report. Mori had said “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. We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”
The JOC decided in 2019 to aim for more than 40 percent female members on the board, but there are just five women among the board’s 24 members.
Some users on the platform were calling on sponsors to pressure the Tokyo organising committee into dropping Mori from the top post.
In a hastily-called press briefing, Mori tried to explain himself, at first apologising, then later saying that he did not necessarily think that fretting over the number of women in high-ranking position was what was important.
“I don’t talk to women that much lately so I don’t know,” Mori said, when asked by a reporter whether he had any basis for saying that women board members talked too much during meetings.
Mori’s defiant response is unlikely to dampen public criticism and anger over his comments. This might further alienate a Japanese public that is already not keen on Tokyo’s attempts to hold the Games during a pandemic.