Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki resigns over derogatory remark

Mr Hiroshi Sasaki was named head of the creative team in December.
Mr Hiroshi Sasaki was named head of the creative team in December.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - 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.

Mr Sasaki, who was the head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year's Games, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Ms Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an "Olympig".

"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," Mr Sasaki said in a statement issued through Games organisers in the early hours of Thursday (March 18). "I sincerely apologise to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."

Mr Sasaki said he had told Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto late on Wednesday evening that he was stepping down.

Ms Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto plan to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday, organisers said.

Mr Sasaki's resignation came swiftly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday.

Last month, Mr 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 Ms Hashimoto who has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the Games.

Mr 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 Aug 8 and the Paralympics from Aug 24 to Sept 5.