Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto to head Tokyo 2020 games


Japan’s “multi-season” athlete and Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto, has been appointed the next Tokyo 2020 president after former chief Yoshiro Mori resigned following a backlash for making sexist comments.

Another octogenarian male leader was initially billed to replace Mr. Mori who was heavily criticised for comment that “women talk too much”, but this was also met with protests.

Mr. Mori had earlier commented that should the number of female board members increase, they would have to “make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying”.

He later apologised for his “inappropriate statement” but initially refused to resign saying that the priority was to make sure the Olympics were held in July.

However, the pressure on him to step down has been steadily increasing after more than a week of non-stop criticism, compounded by the more than 400 Olympic and Paralympic volunteers nationwide who had withdrawn in protest.

In taking on the job, Ms. Hashimoto said on Thursday that she had resigned from her role as Olympic minister to take on her new position as chief of the Tokyo Games.

The former Olympics Minister is a seven time Olympian herself, having competed as a cyclist and a speed skater in four Winter Olympics and three Summer Olympics.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Ms. Hashimoto said she wanted the legacy of the Tokyo Games to be a society that accepted people regardless of gender, disability, race, or sexual orientation.

“I’m sure the Games are going to attract more attention related to gender equality, and in this regard I am determined to regain trust, by my fullest endeavours,” she said.

“As someone with an athletic background, I will carry out a safe Games for both athletes and citizens.”

The International Olympic Committee welcomed the appointment. President Thomas Bach said in a statement that Ms. Hashimoto was “the perfect choice” and her political experience would “help to deliver a safe and successful” Games.

The Summer Olympics will begin on 23 July, after already being postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

Seiko Hashimoto, 56, has served as Japan’s Olympics minister, doubling as minister for women’s empowerment, since 2019.

The former athlete has taken part in seven Olympics – competing in speed skating at four Winter Games, and track cycling at three Summer Games. In 1992, she won a bronze medal in the women’s 1,500m speed skating event in Albertville, France.

Her parents reportedly named her after “Seika”, which translates to “Olympic torch” in Japanese. (Source: BBC)