February 5, 2021 at 14:10 JST
Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, is flanked by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, at a ceremony in July 2019. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, has severely damaged the image of the event with an outrageous remark amid growing international skepticism about whether it can be held this summer.
We demand Mori immediately resign from his post.
The former prime minister’s misogynistic remark came on Feb. 3 when he attended an extraordinary meeting of the Japan Olympic Committee Council as an honorary member.
“A meeting of the executive board (of a sports organization) that includes many women would take time,” he said. “Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak, too.”
He also said such “meetings will be drawn out unless the time allotted for each speaker is limited to some extent.”
At a Feb. 4 news conference, Mori apologized and admitted that he made “an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” which rejects any form of discrimination and pursues complete gender equality.
Although he retracted his remark, he refused to step down.
Mori should not be let off the hook with his apology.
We cannot help question the value of the Olympics and Paralympics held under the leadership of an individual with such distorted ideas. We also doubt whether many citizens will welcome the event and whether athletes from around the world will be happy to take part in it.
And we wonder whether the costly event will only end up further disgracing the nation. There are endless concerns about the Games scheduled to start on July 23.
Sports organizations in Japan, including the JOC, have set a goal of raising the ratio of women on their executive boards to at least 40 percent as early as possible during the 2020s.
This goal was included in the government’s new plan adopted late last year to promote gender equality.
The effort comes in response to growing calls in society to allow women to play greater roles. It also reflects gender-related problems in the sports community, such as coaches committing violence and power and sexual harassment against female athletes.
Growing demand for compliance with ethical and other standards has increased the urgency to train more female coaches and promote more women to senior posts in sports organizations.
Despite all this, Mori effectively ridiculed such efforts and insulted female board members and women in general. He should be held severely responsible.
Mori is not the only person who should be criticized. His sexist comments aroused laughter among council members at the meeting, and no one bothered to take him to task.
All JOC executives, including President Yasuhiro Yamashita, a former judo champion, deserve to be regarded as having similar views about women.
The issue was immediately raised during a Diet session. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga criticized what Mori said as an “unacceptable remark” but did not comment on whether he should resign.
When the Olympics organizing committee was set up seven years ago, no qualified person was willing to assume the top post. Mori was asked to take the helm under government leadership.
Suga, who is bent on holding the Olympics, apparently wants to see the storm calm down after Mori’s apology without his resignation.
But this stance will only widen the gap with public opinion.
The situation is also testing the judgment of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, a woman who heads the Olympic host city.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 5
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