BREAKING: Tokyo Olympic meeting of executive board to be held on Thurs.
The panel tasked with selecting a new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee will ask Seiko Hashimoto to become its new chief to succeed Yoshiro Mori, who announced his resignation last week over sexist comments, a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The panel, headed by Canon Inc. Chairman Fujio Mitarai, held its second meeting at a Tokyo hotel in the morning and narrowed down potential candidates for the top post, a separate source said earlier.
Yoshiro Mori (C), president of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee, speaks at a meeting of its executive members in Tokyo on Feb. 12, 2021, to announce his resignation over his recent remarks slammed as sexist. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto speaks during a House of Representatives Budget Committee session in Tokyo on Feb. 17, 2021. (Kyodo)
Hashimoto is a seven-time Olympian and current Olympic minister in Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet, but the 56-year-old has expressed reluctance to serve as president, people close to the matter said Tuesday.
If Hashimoto, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, accepts the request, the organizing committee will convene a meeting of its executive board as early as this week to endorse her as its new chief.
The committee said the panel’s third meeting will be held Thursday.
During its first meeting on Tuesday, the panel agreed on five criteria for selecting a new president. The criteria include having experience on the global stage and an understanding of the current state of preparations for the Tokyo Games, due to begin in July after they were postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mori announced his resignation on Friday after drawing worldwide criticism over the remarks he made during a Japanese Olympic Committee gathering on Feb. 3 about women talking too much during meetings.
Hashimoto appeared at seven Olympics between 1984 and 1996, competing in speed skating at four Winter Games and cycling at three Summer Games. She became the first Japanese female to win a medal in speed skating, after finishing third in the women’s 1,500-meter race at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.
Hashimoto, 56, opened her career as a lawmaker in 1995. She currently doubles as the minister in charge of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Born in Hokkaido just five days before the opening of the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, her first name Seiko comes from “seika,” meaning the Olympic flame in Japanese.
JOC chief Yasuhiro Yamashita, 63, a gold medalist in judo at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and Mikako Kotani, 54, a former artistic swimmer and currently the sports director for the games, were considered as possible successors to Mori, according to several sources.
While the committee has pledged to ensure transparency in the selection process, the meetings of the panel are being held behind closed doors. The committee has also refused to officially confirm the identities of the panel’s members, although they have been widely reported.
Suga and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike have called for openness in the process after Mori attempted to pick his successor behind the scenes.
But Suga also told a parliamentary session Wednesday that the matter was “not something that I should interfere in. The organizing committee will decide itself.”
Yamashita and Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi are among the members of the selection panel, which consists of an equal number of women and men.