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February 18, 2021

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Woman athlete to replace sexist Games chief?

YOSHIRO Mori’s resignation as president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee over sexist remarks is the latest blow for the Summer Games, already marred by an unprecedented delay and strong public opposition in the face of coronavirus fears.

The committee will ask Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto — a woman who competed in seven Games as a skater and a cyclist — to take the position, NHK reported.

“I am aware of the report, but the committee is an independent body that makes its own decision,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular news conference.

Earlier, NHK said the committee had narrowed its focus to one candidate during two days of meetings.

Born days before Japan hosted the 1964 summer games, Hashimoto is named after the Olympic flame and has lived up to her name by taking part in seven of the Games, both winter and summer, and in two sports.

A 56-year-old lawmaker of Japan’s ruling party, Hashimoto has served as the Olympics minister, doubling as minister for women’s empowerment since 2019.

At the committee’s first meeting on Tuesday, it agreed on five criteria for a new leader, such as a deep understanding of gender equality and diversity and the ability to attain those values during the Games, organizers said in a statement.

Earlier yesterday, the Games faced another potential setback, when the governor of the western prefecture of Shimane said the Olympic torch relay should be reconsidered because of the virus.

Governor Tatsuya Maruyama said he also opposed the holding of the Olympics, worried about infections.

“Should the present conditions continue, I think holding the Olympics should be avoided,” he said. The torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics is set to start in northeastern Fukushima on March 25.

Organizers have vowed to go ahead with the Games despite the pandemic. Polls have persistently shown most Japanese oppose holding the event this year.


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