Yoshiro Mori, president of the Organising Committee for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, has come under fire for stating that “board meetings involving many women drag on.”
His remark came during a council meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee, where discussions were being held over a target of boosting the ratio of women on its board to at least 40%. His statement is discriminatory toward women, and is utterly intolerable.
Furthermore, Mori also said about women, “If one person raises her hand to speak, others also feel the need to speak up, too,” and that “Someone told me that ‘if women were to be increased, we’d have to prompt restricting their speaking time, or else we’d have problems as they (meetings) would never end.'”
These remarks categorize people’s behavior by gender and make a mockery of it. They constitute sexual discrimination and must not be overlooked. During the council meeting, no one else issued a warning to Mori over his remarks, and there was even laughter from among attendees. This, too, is a serious problem.
Mori also stated, “Our organizing committee also has a number of women. All of them know their place.” His comment rules out the need for free discussion at meetings and betrays his stance of not accepting different opinions.
The Olympic Charter stipulates that “the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” The Tokyo Games also advocates “diversity and harmony” as its basic concept.
In response to the public backlash, Mori held a press conference to withdraw his comments and apologize. However, when he was asked by a reporter what he thought was inappropriate about his remarks, he replied, “My statement that distinguished between men and women.” He ruled out the possibility of stepping down as chairman of the organizing committee, and even shot back loudly to a reporter’s question, saying, “You’re asking this question because you want to make the story sound funny, aren’t you?” It can hardly be assumed that Mori understands the essence of the problem.
Mori’s remarks in question were widely publicized by foreign media as well. The New York Times reported, “Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, already facing rising costs and significant public opposition to this summer’s Games, faced a new furor.”
Mori had earlier come under fire for stating at a separate meeting that, “We’ll certainly carry through the Tokyo Games no matter what the situation surrounding the coronavirus would be.” His comment drew a backlash because it lacked consideration for public anxiety over pushing ahead with the games despite the coronavirus pandemic. In a show of criticism toward Mori’s remarks, a known celebrity pulled out of a spot as an Olympic torch relay runner.
The president of the organizing committee is in a position to adopt measures that can convince the public and explore a path toward successfully holding the event.
Mori should be aware that his statements, which tarnished the Olympic spirit, have become a hindrance to organizing the Tokyo Games. His series of words and deeds suggest that he is not qualified as a person responsible for spearheading the Summer Games.