NYour setback for Japan’s Olympic makers: The creative director for the Summer Games in Tokyo, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned from his position on Thursday – four months before the Olympic Games planned in Tokyo – because of humiliating remarks about a well-known Japanese entertainer.
He admitted that he had suggested to employees last year that the corpulent 33-year-old Naomi Watanabe could appear dressed as a pig at the opening ceremony of the Games. In a pink costume she would appear as an “Olympian”, the Japanese quipped – pig means pig in English. The magazine “Shukan Bunshun” brought the case to light. This referred to a corresponding suggestion by Sasaki in a group chat with his team, which his employees had rejected.
The new President of the Olympic Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, accepted Sasaki’s resignation and called his remarks “very inappropriate”. Sasaki said in a written statement that his words were “offensive”. Something like this “should never have happened,” said Hashimoto at a hastily called press conference. A successor will be decided as soon as possible. The Japanese government described Sasaki’s idea as “completely inappropriate”.
“Happy with my body shape”
The 66-year-old Sasaki apologized to the nationally and internationally known actress and fashion designer. Sasaki said the idea and words he expressed on the short message service Line last year were a great insult and unforgivable. “My ideas and comments were completely inappropriate. That cannot be taken back. I sincerely apologize to her and the people who felt uncomfortable about such content. “
Naomi Watanabe, also an entertainer, actress and fashion designer, was at the center of the planning. Watanabe said in a statement issued through her agency that she was “surprised” by the comments. “I’m happy with my body shape,” she added, calling for a world where “individuals can respect one another”.
At the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Sasaki was already involved in the artistic implementation and had the Japanese Prime Minister at the time Shinzo Abe appear as Super Mario. He had only received the post for Tokyo after the Olympic Games were postponed last year.
Around four months before the now planned games in Tokyo, the organizing committee is shaken by another scandal. And that after Japan’s Olympic organizer Yoshiro Mori recently resigned from office because of a derogatory comment on women. Hashimoto then succeeded him and declared that he would do more to promote equal treatment for women. One month later the next scandal about the humiliating remarks about a woman. The Olympic organizers already have enough problems to contend with, including the corona pandemic and record high costs.
In front of journalists, Olympic boss Hashimoto explained that a successor for the resigned Sasaki would have to continue to organize the opening and closing ceremonies for the games largely based on his ideas in view of the tight time remaining. Sasaki had previously worked for the Japanese advertising giant Dentsu, one of the main supporters of the Tokyo Olympics. The advertising partner helped raise a record $ 3.5 billion in domestic sponsorship money. That is almost three times the sponsorship funding compared to previous games.
Next week, on March 25th, the torch relay for the games will begin in Fukushima. Japan’s organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insist that the Games with 11,000 athletes and the subsequent Paralympics with 4,400 athletes take place as planned, regardless of the ongoing corona pandemic. They had been postponed for a year because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Japanese government wants to end the corona emergency for the Tokyo area as planned this Sunday. In view of the falling number of infections, a further extension is not considered necessary. The entry ban for foreigners not residing in Japan is likely to be retained for the time being.
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