Feb. 12 (UPI) — Yoshiro Mori, the president of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, resigned as expected on Friday stemming from remarks he made about women earlier this month.
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games said in an announcement that Mori stepped down during an emergency meeting Friday.
Mori’s resignation was expected after he faced mounting criticism after remarking at a committee meeting this month that women tend to be too chatty at meetings. The panel was discussing women joining as board members.
“There has been much turmoil in recent weeks due to my inappropriate behavior, and for that I apologize,” Mori, a committee member for seven years, said Friday.
“What’s most important is successfully holding the Tokyo Games in July. There can be no interruptions to those efforts.”
Mori initially said he wouldn’t resign, but backlash continued even after he apologized.
Hundreds of female Olympic volunteers resigned in protest and demanded that he step down, female opposition lawmakers in the Japanese Diet wore white as a show of protest, corporate sponsors threatened to withdraw and several runners in the Olympic torch relay quit.
“The International Olympic Committee fully respects President Mori’s decision to step down and understands his reasons for doing so,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement Friday.
“The IOC will continue working hand-in-hand with his successor to deliver safe and secure Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021.”
Organizers said in a message to more than 80,000 volunteers Friday that the Games will begin as scheduled on July 23 and promised transparency in finding a replacement for Mori.
“With just over five months to go … President Mori’s resignation may be a cause of concern to you,” they said. “We ensure you that we will proceed with the appointment of a successor in a swift and transparent manner in order to limit the impact on our preparation for the Games.
“We will also consider specific actions to take, in light of opinions and recommendations voiced at today’s gathering, regarding how we can use this opportunity to further promote gender equality in society.”