Tag Archives: Tokyo

Tokyo olympics boss resigns over sexism row.

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As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori bowed to mounting pressure and resigned Friday over sexist remarks, leaving a leadership vacuum after opposition emerged to his favoured successor.

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The controversy over Mori’s comments has been an unwanted additional headache for organisers already struggling to win over a sceptical public less than six months before the Games open.

After a two-hour meeting, Tokyo 2020 organisers said they will form a committee with a 50-50 gender mix to select Mori’s replacement.

It will be headed by Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, 85, an appointment that may not appease critics who say key positions consistently go to an entrenched old boy network.

Mori, 83, claimed last week that women speak too much in meetings, prompting outrage from officials, sports stars and Olympic sponsors.

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On Friday he announced he would step down, effective immediately.

“My inappropriate statement has caused a lot of chaos. I would like to express my sincere apologies,” he told Tokyo 2020’s executive board and council.

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“What is important is to hold the Olympics. It must not be the case that my presence becomes an obstacle to that.”

Reports initially suggested Mori had selected well-known sports administrator Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, to replace him.

The transition appeared a done deal, with the former footballer describing his planned priorities in the new job to Japanese media.

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But opposition to the selection of another octogenarian — and Mori’s control over the process — quickly mounted.

By Friday afternoon, reports said Tokyo 2020 was under pressure to reverse the appointment, and Kawabuchi subsequently turned down the job.

Selection committee
Tokyo 2020’s CEO Toshiro Muto said the new president should be chosen “as soon as possible” but set no deadline.

He said Mori’s successor needed to have some Games experience, but that gender would not be decisive.

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“I don’t think we need to discuss the gender of the person. We will choose the most qualified person. Isn’t that what we should strive for?”

Muto said organisers had also decided to form a team to promote gender equality and would seek to increase female representation among its staff and senior executives.

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But he declined to be drawn on any deadline for improving female representation or any specific gender balance goal, saying he hoped to see progress by a March 22 board meeting.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori announces his resignation over sexist remarks, at a meeting with council and executive board members at the committee headquarters in Tokyo on February 12, 2021. (Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / POOL / AFP)

Mori’s resignation caps over a week of uproar after he told members of Japan’s Olympic Committee that women have difficulty speaking concisely, “which is annoying.”

He apologised but then defended his remarks and told reporters: “I don’t speak to women much.”

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Several hundred Olympic volunteers have withdrawn in the wake of his comments and a petition calling for action against him gathered nearly 150,000 signatures.

On Friday Mori said he does not “look down on women”, and had supported the seven women on the 35-member Tokyo 2020 board.

“They hesitated to raise their hand to speak up. I even called out their name to encourage them,” he said.

Praise for Mori
As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

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Mori had helped make Tokyo “the best-ever prepared Olympic city,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said in a statement.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons thanked Mori, adding that he hoped reaction to his comments would “be harnessed so that society places greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion.”

The race to fill Mori’s former post now appears wide open, with reports suggesting Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto — a former Olympic athlete and one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet — is a leading candidate.

The fallout comes with organisers already battling public doubt about holding the international event this summer.

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Around 80 percent of Japanese polled in recent surveys back either further postponement or outright cancellation.

Organisers have tried to quell the disquiet by releasing virus rulebooks, but doubts persist with Tokyo and other regions under a Covid-19 state of emergency.

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#Newsworthy

IPC graces IWBF to complete eligibility verification

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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has agreed to grant additional time to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) to finish verifying the eligibility of all 4.0 and 4.5 sport class players set to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Since January 2020, when the IPC declared the IWBF non-compliant with the 2015 Athlete Classification Code, the global governing body of wheelchair basketball has been required to conduct eligibility assessments of 132 4.0 and 4.5 sport class players set to compete in Tokyo.

This exercise – the first phase of an approved action plan towards Code-compliance – has found 119 players eligible and nine non-eligible.

Four cases remain outstanding pending further information, which is why the IPC has accepted the IWBF’s request to extend the deadline for a second time from the original date of May 29, 2020.

The Chief Executive Officer of IPC, Mike Peters said: “Due to the need to gather more information on four-player cases, the IPC has agreed to grant the IWBF a second extension to the original end of May deadline.

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“With such a small number of athletes still to be reviewed, no new deadline has been set by the IPC although continued progress is fully expected of the IWBF.

“The IPC will also continue to monitor the IWBF’s ongoing compliance with the approved action plan,” he said.

In addition to assessing all 4.0 and 4.5 players due to compete at Tokyo 2020, the IPC in January also requested that the IWBF ensures its own classification rules and operations align and are fully compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code by no later than 31 August 2021.

At the moment, IWBF is excluded from the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games programme. Failure to meet this deadline will mean that wheelchair basketball will not be readmitted into the Paris 2024 Games.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 70 years Ken Shimura becomes 1st Japanese Celebrity to die.


Ken Shimura, a prominent Japanese comedian, has died of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, becoming the first entertainment figure from the Asian country to be killed by COVID-19.

The 70-year-old famed actor-cum-TV personality had on March 20, reported symptoms including fatigue after which he was with severe pneumonia. He would test positive for the virus three days later.


According to Japan Times, Shimura passed away on Sunday night in a loss that is being mourned by his country as many had described him as “Japan’s Robin Williams.”

The famed comedian died at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku, Tokyo.


“I don’t think he imagined he would die a death like this,” a representative with his agency said. “I am sure he was working hard with a sense of mission to deliver laughter to people.”

The late comedian became known in 1974, replacing Chu Arai in Drifters, a comedy group. He had learned the trade with the help of other members of the group.

His death comes days after Maria Teresa, princess of the Bourbon-Parma royal family in Spain, passed away at 86 after testing positive for coronavirus.


#Newsworthy…

Tokyo Olympics postponed, to open next year, 2021.


The Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 next year, organisers said on Monday, after the coronavirus forced the historic decision to postpone the Games until 2021.

The announcement comes less than a week after the organisers were forced to delay the Games under heavy pressure from athletes and sports federations as the global outbreak worsened.


“The Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The Paralympics will be held from August 24 to September 5,” Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori told reporters at a hastily arranged evening news conference.

Only hours earlier, Mori had said he expected a decision from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the course of the week.


But on Monday evening, he said an emergency teleconference had been held with the IOC and the date finalised.

“We agreed that the timing of the event will be in summer as originally planned, considering the coronavirus… and a certain amount of time needed for preparations, selection and qualification of athletes,” he added.


In a statement, the IOC said the new dates would give health authorities and organisers “the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The decision would also cause “minimum” disruption to the international sports calendar, the body said.


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were due to open on July 24 this year and run for 16 days, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the first peace-time postponement of the Games.

The IOC and Japan had for weeks insisted the show could go on but the rapid spread of COVID-19 prompted growing disquiet among athletes and sporting federations.


The Olympics was the highest-profile sporting casualty of the coronavirus that has wiped out fixtures worldwide and all but halted professional sport.

There was some speculation that Japanese organisers could take advantage of the blank canvas to shift the Games to spring, avoiding the heat of the Tokyo summer that had been their main concern before coronavirus struck.


Due to the heat, the marathon has been moved to Sapporo, a city some 800 kilometres (500 miles) to the north of Tokyo where the weather is cooler even at the height of summer.

The postponement has handed organisers the “unprecedented” task of rearranging an event seven years in the making, and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto has admitted the additional costs will be “massive”.


According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared between the organising committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

However, that number is hotly contested with a much-publicised government audit suggesting the central government was spending several times that amount — on items organisers claim are only tangentially related to the Olympics.


‘Mankind’s victory’

The postponement affects every aspect of the organisation — hotels, ticketing, venues and transport being among the major headaches.

Hotels have had to cancel bookings, dealing them a bitter blow at a time when tourism is already being hammered by the coronavirus.


Some venues that had booked events years in advance will potentially have to scrap them to make way for the rescheduled Olympics and there is still uncertainty about whether ticket-holders will get refunded.

Another thorny issue is the athletes’ village, which was due to be converted into luxury apartments after the Games, some of which have already found buyers.


The Japanese government had touted the Games as the “Recovery Olympics”, designed to show how the country had bounced back from the 2011 triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in the northeastern Fukushima region.

The Games are now being billed as the expression of humanity’s triumph over the coronavirus.


“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said in Monday’s statement announcing the new date.

“These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

Mori earlier warned that organisers were faced with an “unprecedented challenge.”

“But I believe it is the mission of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee to hold the Olympics and Paralympics next year as a proof of mankind’s victory” against the virus.


#NobleSport

COVID-19: Tokyo marathon cancelled


Organisers said Monday they are cancelling the amateur portion of the Tokyo marathon, affecting around 38,000 runners, on fears about the spread of the new coronavirus in Japan.

“We reached the conclusion that unfortunately it is difficult to organise the event… after several cases (of the virus) were confirmed in Tokyo,” the Tokyo Marathon Foundation said in a statement.


The decision will not affect elite runners, including elite wheelchair participants, the organisers said.

But they only account for around 200 of the tens of thousands of people who had registered for the March 1 race.


The cancellation comes after Japanese government officials warned the spread of the virus in the country entering “a new phase”.

At least 65 cases have been diagnosed in Japan, excluding hundreds of infections aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast.

On Sunday, the health minister warned citizens to avoid large crowds and non-essential gatherings, sparking speculation that the marathon would be cancelled.

A public gathering for the birthday of Emperor Naruhito that was scheduled for February 23 has also been cancelled on virus fears.


#Newsworthy…