2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee Press Conference 2/2
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori is expected to resign on Friday over sexist comments, and his anointed successor reportedly turned down the post after public criticism, less than six months. before the troublesome Games begin. The 83-year-old Mori had elected 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, who is currently serving as the mayor of the Olympic village, to take the highest post, Kawabuchi told reporters previously. But the election raised questions about whether there was no better alternative than another older man, and local media said Kawabuchi later turned down the job. Local broadcaster Fuji News Network reported that the government would seek to block Kawabuchi’s nomination. “We cannot give the impression that things have changed unless we install a woman or see a generational change,” FNN quoted a government source as saying. The Mori controversy has done “serious damage to the reputation” of the Tokyo Olympics, and Kawabuchi’s selection is far from restoring confidence, said a source involved in the Olympics. The source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said many officials wanted a woman to replace Mori’s position. Local media said the country’s Olympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto was being considered as a possible candidate. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had asked Mori if there was a younger or female candidate to succeed, but Mori recommended Kawabuchi, Kawabuchi said. Katsunobu Kato, the main government spokesman, said he was not aware of Suga’s conversation with Mori. The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics declined to comment on media reports about Mori and Kawabuchi. Later on Friday, the organizing committee plans to hold a meeting of its council and executive board, followed by a press conference. Mori will explain her position at Friday’s Games meeting, Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told parliament, referring to a phone call with Mori. When asked if it is possible for Mori, an outgoing leader, to appoint his own successor, Hashimoto said there must be proper procedures for choosing the next leader of the organizing committee. Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, sparked a worldwide outcry with sexist remarks that women talk too much earlier this month, which he did during an Olympic committee meeting. Mori has apologized for his comments, but has not resigned so far despite growing calls for him to resign. His resignation less than six months before the Summer Olympics begin will raise new questions about the feasibility of holding the postponed Games during a coronavirus pandemic.