The 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned this week after he made demeaning remarks about well-known Japanese celebrity Naomi Wanatabe. This is now the second Tokyo Olympic official to resign after making offensive comments directed at women; nearly one month ago the president of the organizing committee was forced to resign after making sexist comments.
The Tokyo Olympics are currently scheduled to begin in four months from now with the Olympic torch relay set to start next week in northeastern Japan; 10,000 runners are set to move across Japan for the next four months.
Last year, Sasaki suggested to staff members that well-known entertainer Naomi Watanabe could perform in the ceremony as an “Olympig,” an obvious play on words to the word “Olympic,” and an offensive remark regarding Sasaki’s inappropriate, and uncalled for, view of the entertainers body.
Watanabe is a major female fashion icon in Japan, and is one of the most famous celebrities in the country as well. The story regarding Sasaki’s remarks were initially reported in the magazine Bunshun, and eventually it was everywhere. Considering this story broke less than a month after the organizing committee’s president was forced to resign for commenting that women talk too much in meetings, it makes sense that Sasaki would be just as ostracized just as quickly. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike spoke on these comments to the press this week as well:
“Sasaki’s comments are extremely embarrassing. When we are talking about what we deliver from Tokyo, or from Japan, we shouldn’t be sending a negative and hateful message.”
Sasaki released a statement this week announcing his resignation: “For Ms. Naomi Watanabe, my idea and comments are a big insult. And it is unforgivable. I offer my deepest regrets and apologize from the depth of my heart to her, and those who may have been offended by this. It is truly regrettable, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Current president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, also released a statement this week in a news conference following the resignation. “Sasaki’s replacement would come quickly. I did feel that way but he explained, and his intention was very strong. That is how I felt. For those reasons I decided to accept his resignation. The IOC also received the (magazine) article and they were quite concerned.”
This is yet another hurdle in the multitude of things that the IOC and organizing committee have had to endure when it comes to organizing these Games. Both groups believe that the Games should still go on despite the fact that we are not out of the woods with the Covid-19 pandemic yet, while Japanese citizens have been pushing back. This is officially the most expensive Olympics on record due to the delays and adjustments made within the past year.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.