(Tokyo) The media reported on Tuesday that the chairman of the organizing committee had prompted hundreds of volunteers to resign to discuss their response to the sexist remarks made by officials last week for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The remarks made by 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori about women speaking out at meetings have provoked outrage in Japan and abroad.
The former prime minister of Japan apologized on Thursday, but refused to resign, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) backed him, believing the case was over.
The Tokyo-2020 Organizing Committee called for Mr Mori’s resignation later this week, perhaps Friday, to discuss its response, the news agency reported Tuesday. Kyodo and the private television channel FNN.
A total of 39,000 Olympic and Paralympic Games volunteers, out of a total of 80,000, have decided to resign, the organizing committee said, adding that there were withdrawals for all sorts of reasons.
Kyodo said the committee had received about 4,000 complaints about the Tokyo-2020 boss’ statements, and that two people had withdrawn from participating in the Olympic torch relay.
Mori apologized at a press conference on Thursday in which he appeared defensive, wanting to withdraw his comments, explaining awkwardly that he had “not spoken to women often recently.”
With more than 140,000 signatures collected on the online petition, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka said Yoshiro Mori’s comments were ignorant.
Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday that Olympics organizers should try to persuade volunteers to return.
He said it was “important that the Organizing Committee give a clear explanation to the volunteers” after Tokyo-2020 released a statement apologizing to Mr Mori and reiterating his commitment to gender equality and diversity.
Ruling party heavyweight Toshihiro Nike said Monday that volunteers “change their minds when things are calm”, shouting angrily online.
“If they really want to leave, we have to hire new ones,” Nikai told Asahi newspaper.
Some Olympic sponsors have expressed frustration with the organizers over the controversy and some companies have told the organizers that they have received complaints and threats of expulsion, citing unidentified groups, the Mainichi daily reported.
An official of the newspaper quoted the newspaper as saying, “We do not want to be seen by President Mori to promote the products.”