Tokyo 2020 creative director tenders resignation over derogatory proposal

Tokyo, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The creative director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Hiroshi Sasaki, has tendered his resignation in the wake of a derogatory suggestion he made involving a popular Japanese actress.

During a brainstorming session last March, Sasaki, who is in charge of the four opening and closing ceremonies, proposed that Naomi Watanabe, 33, appear at the opening, descending from the sky as a pig and characterized as an “Olympig,” an idea that was rejected, the magazine Shukan Bunshun reported on Wednesday.

After the information came to light, Sasaki tendered his resignation to Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, according to a statement he released through the organizing committee early Thursday.

“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” he said. “I sincerely apologize to (Watanabe) and people who have felt discomfort with such contents.”

Hashimoto, in a press conference in Tokyo following emergency talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the latest controversy, expressed shock over the comments by Sasaki and apologized on behalf of the organizing committee.

“It should have never happened,” Hashimoto said, terming the remarks as inappropriate and insulting towards the person it was directed at.

Watanabe, on her part, responded with a statement released through her agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo, expressing surprise over what happened.

She said she was aware of being ridiculed over her size and appearance, but that she was at ease with herself and would continue working without letting it affect her work.

However, she also called for diversity where each one’s individuality is respected and recognized.

Sasaki, 66, is a respected figure in the world of advertising in Japan and was in charge of the 2016 event in which Rio handed over the baton to Tokyo as the next venue.

His resignation is another setback for the Olympics four months before the start of the competitions.

It comes after the former organizing committee president, Yoshiro Mori, was forced to resign after the barrage of criticism received for sexist comments against women during a meeting. EFE-EPA


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