TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, a woman who has competed in seven Olympic Games, said on Thursday she had resigned from cabinet in preparation for becoming the next Tokyo 2020 president, after the previous chief quit due to sexist comments.
Yoshiro Mori resigned as president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee last week after saying women talk too much, a fresh blow to the Games, already marred by an unprecedented delay of a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and strong public opposition.
“I submitted my resignation as Olympics minister to the prime minister as I was chosen as candidate for Tokyo Olympics committee chief,” Hashimoto told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
She added that Suga had encouraged her to make the Games successful but declined to say anything further until after a Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting later in the day, when an official announcement on the post was likely to be made.
Suga is likely to name Tamayo Marukawa, a former television announcer and ruling party lawmaker, to Hashimoto’s post, NHK public television said. Marukawa, 50, previously held the job for about a year.
Mori, 83 and a former prime minister, resigned last Friday after causing an outcry by saying during a committee meeting that women talk too much. He initially defied calls to step down.
At the start of a Tokyo 2020 board meeting earlier on Thursday, Vice President Toshiaki Endo said Mori’s remarks had been inappropriate.
“With only five months to go, his resignation inflicted indescribable damage to the preparation process for the Olympic Games,” Endo said.
“I hope that we can form a consensus on a good candidate to become the next president at this meeting.”
Criteria for a new leader included a deep understanding of gender equality and diversity, and the ability to attain those values during the Games, organisers have said.
The Games are set to begin on July 23 despite repeated opinion polls showing that most citizens are opposed to holding them this year due to the pandemic.