Tokyo 2020 remains committed to holding a “Safety First” Games in 2021, including opening and closing ceremonies that convey to the world the excellence of sports, the attractiveness of Tokyo and Japan, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.
A Japanese weekly magazine reported that Mr. SASAKI Hiroshi, Executive Creative Director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, had made comments that could be considered derogatory to women, and that yesterday the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee was in the process of confirming the facts.
In reviewing the article, I was shocked. The remarks were inappropriate and very regrettable. When I became President of Tokyo 2020, I made gender equality one of our key initiatives for restoring everyone’s trust. To date, I have been striving to carry out this initiative with a sense of urgency. This kind of problem should never happen.
According to Mr. Sasaki, he used an inappropriate expression while group messaging with colleagues via LINE. When some staffers pointed out the inappropriate remark, Mr. Sasaki apologised and retracted the remark. Mr. Sasaki acknowledged that the remark was very insulting to the personality mentioned in the exchange and offered his sincere apologies.
In addition, Mr. Sasaki informed me last night of his intent to resign, both by phone and in writing.
Our current structure for staging the opening and closing ceremonies was put in place last December and the Games are only four months away, so Mr. Sasaki's presence has been crucial to our success of the ceremonies. In addition, he has made significant contributions to the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, including the handover ceremony at the Rio 2016 Games and our one year to go programme last July.
However, after conveying his intent to resign to me last night, Mr. Sasaki once again explained the facts, expressed his regret, repeated his apology, and formally announced his intended resignation. Given the circumstances, I took Mr. Sasaki's decision seriously. In light of both his firm intention and the Organising Committee’s strong commitment to gender equality, I accepted his resignation. I extend my thanks to Mr. Sasaki for his many prior contributions.
The start of the Games is fast approaching. We remain committed to holding a “Safety First” Games this summer, including opening and closing ceremonies that convey to the world the excellence of sports, the attractiveness of Tokyo and Japan, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.
I will thus carry out my responsibility as President of Tokyo 2020 to ensure that a successor is appointed as soon as possible to ensure there is no impact on our delivery of the Games.