Tokyo 2020 Olympic Boss Yoshiro Mori Cops It At Home & Abroad Over Sexist “Women Too Talkative For Boards” Remarks
Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, has apologised for making sexist remarks about “talkative” women in sports organisations, but said he would not resign.
Mori, a former Japanese prime minister with what The Guardian today highlights as “a history of demeaning remarks“, told a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) this week that meetings attended by too many women tended to “drag on”: they talked too much. He suggested time limits should be imposed on any women who did make it into the boardroom and wish to speak.
Reflecting on a time when he was chairman of the Japan Rugby Football Union, Mori said: “Women have a strong sense of rivalry. If one raises her hand to speak, all the others feel the need to speak, too. Everyone ends up saying something.”
In words that demonstrated his understanding of the storm to come, Mori pressed on, adding:
“If I say too much, the newspapers are going to write that I said bad things, but I heard somebody say that if we are to increase the number of female board members, we have to regulate speaking time to some extent, or else we’ll never be able to finish. I am not going to say who said that. We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”Yoshiro Mori
Yoshiro Mori then copped it from women, including athletes and leaders, media commentators – and at home. He told the Mainichi Shimbun that he had been “scolded” by his wife, daughter and granddaughter. He said his wife told him:
You’ve gone and said something stupid again. You make an enemy of women and I’m the one who has to sufferMrs. Mori
Where Yoshiro Mori Forgot To Look
Events in Tokyo highlight a perennial issue in Olympic Governance, one summed up by Third Review of International Federation Governance by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations last year.
Yoshiro Mori’s views, expressed a year out from the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics that have and will continue to raise ethical questions about the politics at the core of the Olympic Movement, challenge the letter and spirit of the Olympic Charter at a time when International Olympic Committee bosses are under pressure to rescind Rule 50.2 restricting freedom of expression among athletes:
OC – Rule 6. The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
In the IOC Code of Ethics
1.4 Respect for international conventions on protecting human rights insofar as they apply to the Olympic Games’ activities and which ensure in particular:
– respect for human dignity;
– rejection of discrimination of any kind on whatever grounds, be it race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status;
– rejection of all forms of harassment and abuse, be it physical, professional or sexual, and any physical or mental injuries;
Sorry May Not Be Enough For Yoshiro Mori
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo today, 24 hours after Tokyo 2020 issued the first of its Olympic Playbooks, a “deeply remorseful” Mori acknowledged that his comments had been “inappropriate” and that they ran counter to the Olympic spirit.
However, he added: “I am not thinking of resigning. I have been working hard and devoted myself to helping [the Tokyo Olympics] for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”
He was asked why he had claimed that women talked too much at board meetings. “I don’t talk to women that much these days, so I don’t know,” replied Yoshiro Mori.
Japanese media reported that several attendees at the Japanese Olympic meeting laughed. They were quieter when word got out and condemnation flowed from women politicians and sports administrators.
Kaori Yamaguchi, a JOC director who has campaigned to have more women hired in Japanese sports administration, accused Yoshiro Mori, 83, of undermining the Tokyo Games’ message. She told the Kyodo news agency:
“Gender equality and consideration for people with disabilities were supposed to be a given for the Tokyo Games. It is unfortunate to see the president of the organising committee make a remark like that.”Kaori Yamaguchi
“Mori, please resign,” was trending on Twitter in Japan today, while Noriko Mizoguchi, a former judo silver medallist, led the response among athletes when she tweeted the IOC’s code of ethics noting that any form of harassment should be rejected.
Mori is also copping it at home. he told the Mainichi Shimbun that he had been “scolded” by his wife, daughter and granddaughter. He told the newspaper:
“My wife was angry with me last night. She said, ‘You’ve gone and said something stupid again. You make an enemy of women and I’m the one who has to suffer’.”Yoshiro Mori
The IOC responded to the controversy and further calls for Mori’s resignation by saying it considered the matter to be “closed”, despite the clear breach of its own Ethics Code.
Meanwhile, the JOC is attempting to improve female representation by doubling the proportion of women on its 25-member board of directors to 40%.
The issue is a perennial one in Olympic sports, FINA, the international federation at the bottom of the league of Olympic Governance with weightlifting and judo among key organisations with rules demanding equality yet governed largely by men at board and specialist committee level, the percentage of political over expert appointments another concern in the mix.