Criticized for his sexist comments, now targeted by the main sponsors of the Olympic Games, Yoshiro Mori will leave the presidency of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics (Tocog). According to Japanese media, he could be replaced by Saburo Kawabuchi, current mayor of the Olympic village, former international footballer and president of the Japanese sports federation, also known for taking positions close to the extreme right, in particular vis -to Koreans, and for his great age, 84 years old. Other names are circulating, such as that of Tamayo Marukawa, TV Asahi presenter who entered politics and was Minister of the Olympic Games in 2016-2017.
Revealed on Thursday February 11 by the Japanese press, the resignation of Mr. Mori, 83, should be recorded on Friday, during a meeting of the organizing committee decided in an emergency, in the presence of the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, Olympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto, and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who had announced that she would not participate if the situation surrounding the Mori affair “Was not improving”.
Participants will discuss Mr. Mori’s succession, with the hope that it will calm the storm sparked by the remarks of the resigning, who lamented on February 3 that “Boards of directors with a lot of women take a lot of time”, because they have, according to him, “Hard to finish” their interventions. His lip-smacking apology the next day only heightened the anger.
A petition launched on February 4 calling for “Appropriate sanctions” gathered in one week nearly 150,000 signatures. On February 7, 60% of the Japanese estimated in a poll that Mr. Mori no longer had his place at the head of Tocog, and some 440 volunteers decided to give up their mission. Internationally, criticism has multiplied.
On the side of the Japanese government, the idea of Mr. Mori’s departure seemed unthinkable because of his influence and his central role in the preparation of the Olympics. Yoshiro Mori was placed in 2014 at the head of the organizing committee by the then Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (2012-2020). In addition to his parliamentary duties, this former second row of rugby at Waseda University chaired the Japan Sports Association and the Japanese Rugby Federation.
Neither the Japanese Sports Association nor the Japanese Olympic Committee make decisions without consulting him! Mr. Mori remains the architect of the success of the Rugby World Cup organized in 2019 in the archipelago. “People in sports live in a world with Mori at the top”, explained, on February 8, the Kyodo News agency.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga considered his remarks as “Completely deviating from the important Olympic philosophy in favor of gender equality”. But he did not call for his resignation. Ditto on the side of Keidanren, the powerful Japanese employers’ confederation. “If he resigns, there will be no Olympics. We need him. It must continue, whatever the cost “, a government source said on February 8.
This was without counting the anger of the Japanese sponsors, worried about their image and who have already paid 3.3 billion dollars for the Tokyo Olympics. “We are disappointed by the recent comments of the president of Tocog, which are contrary to the values that Toyota respects and supports”, declared, on February 10, Akio Toyoda, boss of the all-powerful car manufacturer who wants to take advantage of the Olympic Games to promote the technology of hydrogen vehicles.
Earlier, brewer Asahi found Mr. Mori’s comments “Disappointing and inappropriate, while the Olympic Games promote gender equality”. The oil group Eneos has “Deplored the sexist remarks” the chairman of the committee. The evolution of the situation also pushed the International Olympic Committee to reconsider its positioning: having initially declared that the matter was closed after the apology of Mr. Mori, it finally qualified on 9 September his comments of“Absolutely inappropriate”.