The Tokyo Olympics are making a major statement in Japan — they’ve put a woman in charge.
After Yoshiro Mori resigned last week following scrutiny over sexist remarks, Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympic bronze medalist in speedskating, was appointed as the new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. Mori came under fire after saying he thought women on committees talk too much.
Mori originally handpicked another man in his 80s as his successor before the committee’s executive board — which is 80% male — took over. Hashimoto said she plans to double the amount of women on the committee to 40%.
“I’ve not seen this much movement or energy for gender equality in Japan for a long time,” said Kikuko Okajima, chair of the Women Empowerment League.
Hashimoto was at the center of her own controversy in 2014 when she led the Japanese delegation at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. She was photographed repeatedly kissing Daisuke Takahashi, a male figure skater who appeared uncomfortable in the moment. Takahashi said he didn’t consider the incident harassment, and Hashimoto has stated she hopes to show her “corrected behavior” through her leadership and regrets her “thoughtless actions.”
While Japan is taking every step it can to host the games, polls show 80% of the Japanese public want this year’s Olympics canceled, most likely in fear of worsening the pandemic.
The Tokyo games are set to be the most expensive in history with the official cost at $15.4 billion, however government audits say the price is closer to $25 billion.