TOKYO (JAPAN) – With just six months remaining for the troubled games to start, Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori will step down on Friday over sexist comments. Adding to the woes, his anointed successor has reportedly turned down the job after public criticism.
Mori, 83, had picked 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi who currently serves as the mayor of the Olympic village to take over the top position. However, the choice raised questions about whether there was no a better alternative than another older, male, and local media said Kawabuchi later turned down the job.
Local broadcaster reported the government would seek to block the nomination of Kawabuchi.
“We can’t give the impression that things have changed unless we install a woman or see a generational shift,” said a government source.
The Mori controversy has done “serious reputation damage” to the Tokyo Olympics, and the selection of Kawabuchi is far short of restoring the trust, said one source involved in the Olympics.
Local media said the country’s Olympics Minister, Seiko Hashimoto, was being considered as a possible candidate.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had asked Mori if there was either a younger or a female candidate to succeed, but Mori recommended Kawabuchi, Kawabuchi said.
Katsunobu Kato, top government spokesman, said he was not aware of Suga’s conversation with Mori.
The Tokyo Olympics organising committee declined to comment on media reports over Mori and Kawabuchi.
Later on Friday, the organising committee plans to hold a meeting of its council and executive board, followed by a press conference.
Mori will explain his position at Friday’s Games meeting, Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told parliament, referring to a phone call with Mori. Asked whether it is possible for Mori, a departing leader to appoint his own successor, Hashimoto said there needs to be proper procedures to pick next leader for the organising committee.