BY STEPHEN WADE, AP Sports journalist
TOKYO (AP) – The postponed Tokyo Olympics have another problem besides the pandemic. This time it’s Yoshiro Mori, the president of the local organizing committee.
Mori made derogatory comments on women almost a week ago at a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee. Essentially, he said that they talk too much, fueled by “a strong sense of rivalry”.
The 83-year-old former prime minister had to apologize but continues to demand his resignation. They seem to be growing daily, weakening support for the Olympics, and asking questions about why older men dominate politics and boardrooms in Japan.
The local organizing committee issued a vague statement on Sunday supporting diversity. The committee is also heavily dominated by men with few women in leadership positions.
Mori has been the ongoing topic of talk and news shows suggesting that the World Economic Forum ranks Japan 121st out of 153 countries on gender equality. This is in contrast to Japan’s image as a sophisticated, developed country and home to some of the most famous and trusted brands in the world.
Mori’s future could come to a head in a matter of days if local sponsors are reported to be upset. You contributed a record $ 3.5 billion to the Tokyo Games.
Widespread reports in Japan say that the organizing committee leaders will meet this week to discuss its fate.
The fallout reaches the top rungs of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Toshihiro Nikai, the 81-year-old general secretary of the party, criticized several hundred game volunteers who said they would quit in protest.
“If they definitely want to quit, we have to recruit additional volunteers,” Nikai said on Monday.
Nikai was challenged by Taro Aso, the 80-year-old deputy prime minister and former prime minister himself. Aso is also a former Olympic gold medalist and said Nikai showed a “lack of respect” for the volunteers.
All of these disruptions could further damage Tokyo’s image as it seeks to end the Olympics in the midst of a pandemic that is fraught with soaring costs, which are now officially $ 15.4 billion but are seen as much higher.
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee swiftly accepted Mori’s apology last week and released another statement on Tuesday to bolster its own references on gender equality.
Mori’s opinion was “absolutely inadequate and contrary to the IOC’s obligations,” said the Olympic body, whose own board of directors represents a third of women – five out of 15 members.
“For the past 25 years the IOC has played an important role in advancing women in and through sport, and will continue to do so by setting ambitious goals,” it said.
Mori was appointed under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was supported by the current Prime Minister, and has built close ties with IOC President Thomas Bach.
Bach has called Tokyo “the best-prepared Olympics in history” and reiterated the compliment as it tries to hold the most difficult games in history.
The IOC needs the Olympic Games to take place. Almost 75% of its income comes from the sale of broadcast rights. Unlike other sports companies, there are only two major events for sale – the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Tokyo and the IOC are planning to take in 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes in just under six months, to keep them in a “bubble” and to limit contact with the media, fans, judges and officials.
An online petition is said to have received 140,000 signatures on Monday. It does not call for Mori’s resignation, but rather calls on officials to look into his behavior.
Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that its weekend poll found that nearly 60% think Mori is not qualified for the job. He has headed the organizing committee since 2014.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to open on July 23. However, according to surveys, around 80% of the Japanese public believe they should be canceled or rescheduled. The IOC has announced that if they cannot be held this time, they will be canceled.
In a radio interview on Sunday during the Super Bowl, US President Joe Biden said he hoped the Olympics would take place for the benefit of the athletes.
“I spoke to the Japanese prime minister,” said Biden. “He’s working very hard to be able to safely open the games, have the games, and I think that has to be science based, whether or not.” it is not certain that that will happen. “
Associate press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.
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