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Tokyo Olympic chief refuses to resign over sexist comments 

Former Japanese PM Yoshiro Mori apologises for saying women talk too much in meetings 

Another day, another crisis for the Tokyo Olympic Games organising committee.

In recent weeks, games chiefs have had to deny reports that the event may not take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been major scrutiny of the rising costs of hosting the event and a poll which found that around 80% of the Japanese public want it cancelled or rescheduled.

On top of these battles, another controversy is threatening to overshadow the build-up to the summer Olympics and Paralympics - and this time it’s the man at the top who’s found himself in the line of fire.  

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympics, has sparked a sexism row by saying women board members “talked too much” and meetings with female board members “take a lot of time”. 

According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Mori made his comments at a Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) council meeting on Wednesday.

He was quoted as saying: “A meeting of an executive board that includes many women would take time. Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak, too. That is why they all end up making comments.

“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying. We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”

Online backlash 

Mori, 83, is a former prime minister of Japan and known in the country for a “string of gaffes and undiplomatic statements he made while in office”, the BBC says. 

The sexist comments made at the JOC meeting triggered a backlash on social media with the hashtag #Moriresign trending on Twitter.

He has today apologised and acknowledged that the remarks were “inappropriate”, but despite calls for his resignation, he will not be standing down. 

“It was an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” Mori said at a news conference. “I deeply apologise for it.”

In an interview with Japan’s Mainichi newspaper Mori said his own female family members have been angered by the remarks. He said: “Last night, my wife gave me a thorough scolding. She said: ‘You’ve said something bad again, haven’t you? I’m going to have to suffer again because you’ve antagonised women’. This morning, my daughter and granddaughter scolded me as well.”

Japan ranks highly on a range of international indicators, but trails on promoting gender equality, the AFP news agency reports. In the 2020 World Economic Forum global gender gap survey, Japan ranked 121 out of 153 nations. 

Last year the JOC said it was aiming for 40% of female members on its board, but as of November just five women were among the 24 board members.

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