Tokyo Olympics Creative Head Quits Over Sexist Comment

The Sumida River flows through Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. Japan's infrastructure is already one of the world’s safest and investment in mitigating natural disasters is ramping up. Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) --The chief executive creative director of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics quit after a magazine reported that he had made a demeaning suggestion involving a female comedian, becoming the latest setback for the delayed Games.

By Colin Keatinge and Kana Nishizawa
Mar 17, 2021, 6:42 PM – Updated on Mar 18, 2021, 5:37 AM
Word Count: 237

Hiroshi Sasaki, who was responsible for all four opening and closing ceremonies, said in a statement he proposed an idea last year to have comedian Naomi Watanabe dress up as a pig as a play on words taking the last three letters of “Olympics”. His idea drew criticisms from his team and was quickly rejected, he said.

Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto said in an emergency press conference Sasaki’s comments were inappropriate and his resignation offer has been accepted.

“I thought I was always careful about diversity, gender issues and not ridiculing people based on their appearance,” Sasaki said. “This incident made me understand that was a big misconception, and made me realize my lack of sensitivity and consciousness.”

The departure of 66-year-old Sasaki follows that of former Japan Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who resigned in February as chief of the overall Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee after he also made sexist comments. The latest scandal will be another headache for the organizers, already facing low public support. More than three-quarters of respondents in a January poll by broadcaster NHK said the games should be either canceled or delayed again.

Sasaki’s comments were published earlier in weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun.

(Adds comment from Tokyo2020 president in third paragraph)

–With assistance from Ayai Tomisawa and Yuki Hagiwara.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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