TOKYO – Tokyo Olympics organizers, already facing soaring costs and significant public opposition to this summer’s Games, attracted renewed attention Wednesday after the Tokyo Organizing Committee president suggested that women should do too much in meetings talk.
The President, Yoshiro Mori, fueled backlash on social media after news of his comments demeaning women were posted during an online session of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
“In boards with many women, the board meetings take up so much time,” said the 83-year-old Mori with a laugh, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun, one of the country’s largest daily newspapers. “Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others likely think I have to say something too. That’s why everyone speaks. “
Mr. Mori, a former Prime Minister, responded to a question asking him to comment on the Olympic Committee’s plan to increase the number of women board members to more than 40 percent of the total.
“You have to regulate the talk time to some extent,” said Mori. “Otherwise we will never be able to finish.”
The reports came just as Olympic organizers were issuing guidelines to reassure citizens and visitors that they can keep athletes and others safe during the scheduled Games this summer.
On Twitter, users were quick to call for Mori to step down. Others said Mori’s age and outdated attitudes were the real problem.
Mr Mori, who has often been the public face of the Tokyo Organizing Committee for insisting that the Games take place amid a global pandemic, appeared to make an exception for the women who are currently members of the Tokyo Organizing Committee. These women, he suggested, can speak in a length that meets his standards for brevity.
These women “have experienced international arenas,” he said. “That’s why their conversations are refined, to the point and they are very useful.”
With just over five months to go before the Games begin on July 23, Tokyo remains in a state of emergency and vaccination of the public has not yet started. Mori and the committee face many challenges in convincing a public that has shown in repeated polls that they are strong against Japan, which are hosting the Games this summer. In a poll last month, 77 percent of the country were in favor of canceling or postponing the games.
Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo organizing committee, said he had no comment on Mori’s remarks about women.
On social media, when asked for Mr Mori’s resignation, others expressed dismay not only at his comments but also that no one at the meeting had objected at the moment.
“This is nothing more than discrimination against women” wrote a twitter user. “He should resign immediately. But the problem is, nobody stopped him. The biggest news is that he said so at the official location of the JOC meeting that reporters attended, and that no one stopped the discrimination. “