For the past year, I’ve felt so sorry for Japanese government officials and Japanese Olympic Committee officials as they tried to understand the pandemic and what they should do about the summer Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to be held last summer – they obviously got pushed back, and the current Olympic gossip is that the Tokyo Olympics will probably be cancelled altogether, especially given that no one knows what the global vaccine rollout will look like by the summer. Against that setting, the Tokyo Olympics chief decided to go off-script and mention that he hates having meetings with women because they talk. I’m choosing to laugh.
Sexist remarks made by Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori have drawn international condemnation, in a further blow to organizers who face criticism for persisting in holding the event this summer despite rising COVID-19 infections and costs.
“I apologize and am remorseful for the remarks,” Mori told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. He said he “withdraws” his comments as they were inappropriate and against the Olympic spirit. However, he said he has “no intention” to step down.
Mori, 83, on Wednesday said board meetings with a lot of women “take so much time,” in comments about a government initiative to increase representation of female directors. “Women have a strong sense of competition,” and that is why “everyone speaks” so much, he added.
The remark immediately caught domestic attention and many Japanese people vented their feelings on social media. His comments eclipsed the International Olympics Committee’s publication the same day of its action guidelines for sports federations. His remarks quickly made waves overseas, and were picked up in publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post and The Guardian.
“Definitely going to corner this guy at the breakfast buffet,” Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian IOC member, tweeted on Thursday.
“Yes, Mr. Mori, women can be concise. For example, to answer you, two words are sufficient: ‘Shut up’,” Nathalie Loiseau, a French politician currently serving as a Member of European Parliament, tweeted in French on Thursday.
Mori, a former prime minister, has a track record of making disparaging remark. In 2000, when recalling a 1969 election win, he said: “When I was greeting farmers from my car, they all went into their homes. I felt like I had AIDS.” As prime minister (2000-2001), his cabinet approval rating plummeted to 9% after poorly handling a fatal collision between a Japanese fishing vessel and a U.S. submarine.
Yes, the dude is wildly sexist and problematic and worse yet, he has no plans to resign. He just issued that faux apology – “takesies backsies, we good?” – and plans to carry on. I’d just like to point out that not only is the dude sexist as hell, he’s also just plain wrong. Most studies show that the more women are included at high levels, the more efficient an organization is. What happens when there are too few women in a meeting is that the men talk over the women and marginalize women and their ideas. When there are more women in a meeting, they gang up on sexist douches like Yoshiro Mori. And that’s why he’s big mad.
"Women have a strong sense of competition," said Mori. "If one person raises their hand, others probably think, I need to say something too. That's why everyone speaks." …WHAT? https://t.co/R7VT32EvDO
— Eri Sugiura (@SugiuraEri) February 4, 2021
Photos courtesy of Getty.