Tokyo, Feb 18 (EFE).- Former sportsman and Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto was appointed on Thursday as new chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee after Yoshiro Mori stepped down following controversy over sexist comments.
Hashimoto has also served as the Minister for Women’s Empowerment for the Japanese Government.
Hashimoto, addressing an emergency meeting of the organizing committee after her appointment, expressed hope of making a positive contribution in the safe and successful conduct of the Olympic Games in five months time.
The 56-year-old former skater, who said she wanted to give back to the sport, becomes the second woman to take over the organizing committee of an Olympic Games, following the Greece’s Gianna Angelopoulos in Athens 2004.
Hashimoto said in her first statements after her appointment that leaving her position as minister was “very difficult” and advocated continuing to collaborate with her successor, Tamayo Marukawa, and quickly address the Covid-19 measures for the Olympics.
The 1992 Winter Olympics bronze medalist at Albertville stressed she wanted to work closely with the national government and the organizations involved to ensure the safety of all participants at the Games this summer, and was aware of the challenges that lay ahead.
“I will draw on my experiences as an athlete and as a minister” while discharging her role as head of the organizing committee, she added.
She also spoke about the need to win over the trust of athletes, many of whom have raised questions about whether it would be safe to participate in the quadrennial event, which has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she had great expectations from Hashimoto, a seven time Olympian, and looked forward to working with her in organizing the Games.
She underlined that Hashimoto’s experiences as an athlete as well as the Olympics minister would be beneficial in the job that lay ahead of them, and that her experience as women’s empowerment minister would help promote equality in the organizing committee.
Hashimoto’s appointment comes after the resignation of Yoshiro Mori in the wake of an outrage caused by sexist comments concerning women at board meetings.
Mori, 83, was the subject of widespread criticism for saying, during a meeting on greater representation of women in the committee, that women talked too much in board meetings.
The statement, which was seen to be against the spirit of the International Olympic Committee, led to hundreds of volunteers for the Games stepping down and caused disquiet among several sponsors of the event.
In this regard, Hashimoto acknowledged that her appointment was related to an issue of equality, and she hoped to contribute towards a reformist vision within the organizing committee. EFE