Hashimoto Seiko (R), president of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Muto Toshiro, CEO of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, attend a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on March 18, 2021. Hashimoto said here on Thursday that she was "shocked" to learn of the derogatory remarks made by chief creative director Hiroshi Sasaki and pledged to appoint his successor as soon as possible. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via Xinhua)
TOKYO, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said here on Thursday that she was "shocked" to learn of the derogatory remarks made by chief creative director Hiroshi Sasaki and pledged to appoint his successor as soon as possible.
Sasaki resigned after making the insulting remarks about popular female Japanese entertainer Naomi Watanabe, dealing another blow to the postponed Olympic Games with four months to go until the opening ceremony.
Japan's weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported on Wednesday that the 66-year-old told staff members that Watanabe, a heavy-set comedian, actress and fashion designer, could perform at the ceremony as an "Olympig", a play on the word "Olympic".
"I was shocked after seeing the headline of the article," Hashimoto told a news conference. "The remarks were inappropriate and very regrettable...This kind of problem should have never happened."
Hashimoto said that Sasaki made an apology to her and offered to resign both on the phone and in written form Wednesday.
"Given this circumstance, I seriously considered Mr. Sasaki's decision in line with his firm determination to resign and the fact that the organizing committee has made gender equality a priority. I accepted his resignation," she said.
Hashimoto took over as the Tokyo 2020 president one month ago after her predecessor Yoshiro Mori quit over controversial comments on women.
She said that the Tokyo games will not be affected by Sasaki's departure, saying, "The start of the games is approaching. We are committed to the games this summer with safety as the top priority.
"I will fulfill my responsibility as the Tokyo 2020 president to ensure the successor is appointed as soon as possible without any impact upon our implementation of the games."
The 66-year-old Sasaki was named as the chief creative director after replacing actor Nomura Mansai last December and is responsible for revising the program for the opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
He made a lengthy apology early morning on Thursday which was sent by the organizing committee to the media.
"My idea and comments are a big insult. And it is unforgivable," he said. "I regret this from the bottom of my heart, and I deeply apologize to her and everyone who felt offended." Enditem