Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki said he has resigned after making a derogatory comment about a popular female Japanese entertainer, in the latest controversy over insensitive remarks towards women to hit Games organizers.
With only four months left before the Olympics begin, the departure of the chief director for the opening and closing ceremonies is another blow to the 2020 Games, which were postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The setback comes on the heels of Yoshiro Mori’s resignation as organizing committee president last month after his sexist remarks sparked outrage.
Sasaki said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an “Olympig.”
“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” Sasaki said in a statement issued through Games organizers early on Thursday. “I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents.”
Sasaki’s resignation came swiftly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday, which sent shock waves through Japan.
Watanabe expressed “surprise” by the comments.
“In fact, I am happy with this body shape,” Watanabe said in a statement posted on her agency’s website.
“But, as a human being, I sincerely hope that the world will become a fun and prosperous place where we can respect and recognize each individual’s individuality and way of thinking.”