An Olympic feminist change before Tokyo 2021
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Many female advocate groups called on the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to act on the CEO’s comments, and some volunteers for the games quit their positions in protest to the comments.
Originally, I was going to go to Tokyo last summer for the Summer Olympic Games as well as to explore other places that I was not able to see when I went in 2018. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was delayed to this summer and I still might be able to go to it depending on what happens with the pandemic and travel restrictions. The delay of the games began a debate on whether it should still happen with spectators and was a major setback.
Last month, the CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Yoshirō Mori had to step down after saying comments that were deemed sexist during a meeting with the Japan Olympic Committee on February 3. When they were talking about putting more women in the committee, Mori (who was a former Prime Minister in Japan and the former head of the Japan Rugby Football Union) said that meetings that involve a lot of women take too long because they talk too much. The following day, he apologized for saying those comments, but many people asked him to step down because his comments do not represent the spirit of the games.
This led to many female advocate groups calling on the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to act on the CEO’s comments, and some volunteers for the games quit their positions in protest to the comments. Mori has said he does not agree with the criticism against him and that his comments were misinterpreted. “I didn’t mean it in that way, although it is said to be discrimination against women,” he said. “I have been praising women, promoting them to speak out more.” He claims his comments meant that women talk a lot in meetings because they have a “strong sense of competition.” Mori also says he is being unfairly judged for these comments because of his age. “Old people are also doing well for the sake of Japan and the world. I feel extremely unhappy that older people are said to be bad. But it may go nowhere if I complain.”
One week later, Mori stepped down and it was likely that his deputy head Saburo Kawabuchi will take over the position but declined the offer because he has controversies of his own. The following week on February 18, former bronze medalist and the Minister of Olympics Seiko Hashimoto was selected to manage the organizing committee for the Tokyo Games.
In an NHK News interview on February 25, Hashimoto says the challenges that she must address before the games are to ensure a safe environment during the games and the torch relay (which begins this month) for both the athletes and spectators. Also, she must prevent a cluster from being formed in the venues and celebration spaces. Last week, Hashimoto announced that more women will be put in the organizing committee’s board of directors which now consists of 40 percent of the board. This was the goal that was discussed which led to Mori stepping down from his job.