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Tokyo Games head Mori's sexist remarks may violate Olympic Charter

Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games President Yoshiro Mori speaks to the press following an online meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach, in Tokyo's Chuo Ward on Jan. 28, 2021. (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games President Yoshiro Mori said during a Feb. 3 councilors' meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) that "executive board meetings with many women in them take a lot of time," among other remarks that have drawn criticism for their overtly discriminatory nature.

    Mori's remark regarding the appointment of female executives to athletic organizations emerged in an online meeting disclosed to the press. "It's hard to say this in the presence of TV crew, but the Education (Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) Ministry nags us to have women make up 40% of executive boards," Mori said regarding a target to secure over 40% of executive positions for women, which follows the guidelines indicated by the Japan Sports Agency.

    Mori then said, "Executive board meetings with many women in them take a lot of time. The (Japan) Rugby Union has taken twice as much time (for meetings). There were around 10 women ... There must be five now. Women are excellent and highly competitive. If one person raises her hand to speak, others must also feel the need to speak up too. And then everyone ends up saying something."

    Furthermore, he said, "If I say too much, I'll get in trouble if this gets out to the newspapers. They'll say that I made another insult. Someone said that if women were to be increased, 'regulations urging members to limit their speaking time to a certain extent must be set up, or else we'd have problems as meetings would hardly end.' I'm not going to say who said that though."

    He added, "Our organizing committee also has a number of women, I think about seven. All of them know their place. They're all people who come from athletic organizations, and have set foot in large international domains. Their comments are also precisely to the point, and if there are any vacancies, I find myself immediately searching for a woman to fill the spot."

    The Olympic Charter stipulates that "the practice of sport is a human right," and that "every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit." It also states 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."

    It is likely that Mori's sexist remarks violate the Olympic Charter. Following news coverage on his comments on the evening of Feb. 3, a flood of criticism including "This is outright sexism," and "He should immediately resign (from his post as president of the organizing committee)," was seen on Twitter.

    Japanese journalist Natsuki Yasuda commented, "Mr. Mori has repeatedly made sexist remarks, such as 'It's wrong that women who don't make any children are taken care of with tax money when they get older.' I wonder if he hasn't learned a thing from the past."

    She added, "Such sexist, discriminatory remarks have been repeated because even if they were viewed as problematic, the notion that 'it's only a matter of time until the affair will blow over' pushed itself through. I think we were negligent enough to allow it, rather than saying that the notion 'pushed itself through.' This is why we can't leave matters vague."

    (Japanese original by Aya Shiota and Kazushi Machidori, Integrated Digital News Center)

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