Tokyo Olympics: Creative head Hiroshi Sasaki resigns after derogatory comment about female Japanese entertainer
Sasaki was head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies for this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo; he said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an "Olympig"
Last Updated: 18/03/21 10:22am
Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki said he has resigned after making a derogatory comment about a popular female Japanese entertainer, in the latest controversy over insensitive remarks towards women to hit Games organisers.
Sasaki, who was the head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies for this year's Games, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an "Olympig".
"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," Sasaki said in a statement issued through Games organisers in the early hours of Thursday. "I sincerely apologise to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."
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Sasaki said he had told Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto late on Wednesday evening that he was stepping down.
Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto plan to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday, organisers said.
Sasaki's resignation came swiftly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday.
Last month, Yoshiro Mori stepped down from his role as president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee after causing a furore with sexist remarks when he said women talk too much.
The 83-year-old Mori, a former prime minister, was replaced by athlete-turned-politician Hashimoto who has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the Games.
Sasaki was named head of the creative team in December as Olympic organisers looked to revamp plans for simplified ceremonies after the Tokyo Games were pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics are scheduled from July 23 to August 8 and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.