It’s been a rough week for Yoshiro Mori. After spouting sexist comments and igniting a media firestorm in Japan, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee said he will not resign.
Yesterday, at an executive Olympic committee meeting, Mori, a former Prime Minister of Japan, said one has to “regulate speaking time” of women in meetings “or else we’ll never be able to finish.” He also reportedly said women make meetings run too long, “which is annoying.”
Mori has resigned from a high-profile job before. After one year as Japan’s PM, he left with approval ratings in the single digits and a laundry list of media gaffes. He was appointed to run the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in 2014.
“I am not thinking to resign,” Mori said as “Mori, please resign” trended on Twitter. “I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”
Mori also offered an apology for his comments. “The statement made at the Japan Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression, contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I am deeply remorseful. I would like to withdraw the statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings.”
Withdraw the statement! Erase it like it never happened! Apparently the IOC is on board for that, too.
“President Mori has apologized for his comments today,” the Olympic body said. “With this, the IOC considers the issue closed.” Case closed. Just move on! No more questions please!
Unfortunately for Mori and the embattled Tokyo Olympic committee, they’re going to have to convince Japanese citizens that hosting an international event in a global pandemic is a good idea. They’re not off to a good start.
According to last month’s poll from Kyodo News, 80 percent of Japanese citizens favor further postponement or outright cancelation of the Tokyo Games. But on Monday, Mori said Tokyo 2021 will go on “no matter what [the] situation would be with the coronavirus.”
And what’s the situation with COVID in Japan right now? Well, the government recently extended the country’s state of emergency for another month. Nice timing!
Given the opportunity to resign, Mori could’ve gone back to the 2001 playbook and just stepped down. That would’ve been warranted. But now, he’s probably more unpopular than the 2021 Olympics.