Tokyo Olympics board gets 12 new female members

by AFP

Tokyo Olympics organisers approved 12 new female executive board members on Wednesday, less than two weeks after appointing a woman president in the wake of an embarrassing sexism row.

The appointments increase female representation on the Tokyo 2020 board from 20 percent to just over 40 percent, meeting a target set by Seiko Hashimoto (picture) when she took over as president last month.

Seven-time Olympian Hashimoto replaced 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who resigned after his claims that women talk too much in meetings sparked an outcry in Japan and abroad.

“Raising the proportion to 42 percent sends a message to various groups, to the sporting world and the whole society, and we hope it will have an impact,” said Hashimoto, who was one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet until she stepped down to take up her new post.

“We are increasing the numbers and welcoming people from all different fields of expertise.”

Games chiefs agreed to amend their rules to accommodate the new appointments, allowing a maximum of 45 board members, up from the previous 35.

There were previously seven women on the executive board.

The new board members include two athletes — Sydney Olympics marathon gold-medallist Naoko Takahashi and double Paralympic alpine skiing champion Kuniko Obinata.

The other 10 members are drawn from various fields such as sports administration, business and academia, including Mitsue Haga, a representative of Japan’s indigenous Ainu people.

“One of the basic principles of Olympism is that everyone is equal,” said Hashimoto.

“For Japan, the wonderful traditional culture of the Ainu people is a big legacy.”

Tsuyoshi Fukui, a male board member who is also on the board of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), resigned from his Tokyo 2020 role on Tuesday.

Mori quit as president after domestic and international outcry over remarks he made in early February to members of the JOC.

He apologised for the sexist remarks, while insisting he was repeating complaints made by others, but then dug a deeper hole when he explained that he “doesn’t speak to women much”.

Hashimoto was nominated as president after Mori’s attempt to handpick his successor — an 84-year-old ex-footballer — was nixed following public criticism.