Tokyo 2020 leader won't step down after 'absolutely inappropriate' comments

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Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.
Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 organizing committee, speaks at a news conference Feb. 4 in Tokyo. (Kim Kyung-hoon / Associated Press)

Backlash against the head of the Tokyo Olympics is continuing to grow in the days since he complained that women talk too much in business meetings.

Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister and now president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, was speaking to colleagues online last week when he reportedly said: “Women are very competitive. When one of them raises her hand, they probably think they have to say something, too. And then everyone says something.”

The sexist comment, originally published by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, triggered a storm of criticism in Japan, where there were calls for Mori’s resignation. The International Olympic Committee weighed in Tuesday, calling Mori’s remarks “absolutely inappropriate.”

Mori has apologized but seems determined to stay on the job.

“I am not thinking to resign,” he said. “I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”

The controversy arises at a time when the Games are already facing considerable pushback. The massive competition, which was postponed from last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, is now trying to reboot with infections still raging worldwide.

Recent polls have indicated about 80% of the Japanese population would prefer another postponement or cancellation. There has been additional public concern about the overall price tag, which could ultimately surpass $25 billion.

Corporate sponsors have expressed displeasure with Mori’s remarks. NHK, a Japanese public broadcaster, reported that Tokyo organizers will convene a special board meeting to address the issue as early as Friday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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