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February 10, 2021

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IOC: Mori’s comments ‘inappropriate’

Sexist comments made by Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori were “completely inappropriate,” the International Olympic Committee said yesterday, as the row over his controversial remarks continues to simmer.

The IOC’s statement came as Japanese media said organizers were planning to meet this week to discuss their response to the uproar.

Several hundred Olympic volunteers have quit since Mori said last week that women speak too much in meetings. He has since apologized but not stepped down, and the IOC last week said it considered the matter closed.

But yesterday it released a lengthy statement citing its commitment to gender equality and distancing itself from the remarks made by Mori.

“The recent comments of Tokyo 2020 President Mori were absolutely inappropriate and in contradiction to the IOC’s commitments and the reforms of its Olympic Agenda 2020,” it said.

It noted Mori had apologized “and later made a number of subsequent comments.”

After apologizing, Mori appeared to dig himself in deeper, however, explaining he “doesn’t speak to women much.”

The IOC made no reference to calls for Mori’s resignation, noting only that Tokyo’s organizing committee “also considers his comment to be inappropriate and has reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality.”

Japanese media said yesterday the organizing committee could meet as soon as Friday to discuss its response as calls grow for Mori to resign.

Since Mori’s remarks, nearly 400 Olympic and Paralympic volunteers have quit, according to the committee, which said the number includes withdrawals for all reasons.

A total of 80,000 volunteers from Japan and overseas have been recruited for this summer’s virus-postponed Games.

Two people have pulled out of the torch relay and around 4,000 complained to organizers, said public broadcaster NHK.

The row is the latest headache for organizers already battling public disquiet about the delayed Olympics, with polls showing more than 80 percent of Japanese oppose holding it this summer.

An online campaign calling for action against Mori has attracted more than 140,000 signatures, while tennis superstar Naomi Osaka slammed his comments as “ignorant.”

Top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said yesterday that organizers should try and convince volunteers to return. “It is important that the organizing committee gives a careful explanation to volunteers,” he said, days after a Tokyo 2020 statement reaffirmed a commitment to gender equality and diversity.

But ruling party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai reportedly said on Monday that volunteers “would change their mind when things calm down” — sparking further ire online.


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