Sunday, October 17

‘Olympig’: Tokyo 2020 stumbles on sexism again | sports

Naomi Watanabe, at a promotional event for Tokyo 2020 in May 2019.
Naomi Watanabe, at a promotional event for Tokyo 2020 in May 2019.AP

It was all applause and praise for his original genius when Hiroshi Sasaki proposed, and succeeded, to disguise the very serious Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Super Mario to collect the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony at Maracana in Rio 2016. The opposite reaction has generated the last proposal from Sasaki, advertising executive and since last December creative director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ceremonies. “Let’s disguise Naomi Watanabe as a pig and launch her from the sky,” he proposed. “And we will have the section Olympic [pig, en inglés, significa cerda] within the Olympics”. The play on words, and the role assigned to Japan’s most famous plus-size model, designer and comedian too, fell through when she launched it a few months ago, but the frustrated and sexist idea was kept a secret until she did this week. publishes a magazine. The controversy and the rejection have forced Sasaki to present his resignation to the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto.

“It was an idea, and an expression of it, very inappropriate,” Sasaki retracted, according to the Kyodo agency. “My idea is simply an insult to Watanabe. I sincerely apologize to her and to the people she has disturbed. ” Hashimoto did not hesitate to accept the resignation. “The comments were inappropriate and very regrettable. And very insulting. They should never have happened. I myself feel bad seeing the idea, ”said Hashimoto, a woman who has presided over Tokyo 2020 for just a few weeks, after the forced resignation on February 12 of her predecessor, Yoshiro Mori, also the protagonist of a sexist and denigrating scandal against women, whom he described as “charlatans” and whose ability to serve on boards of directors he questioned.

Since that day in February, no less than 12 women have become part of the Tokyo 2020 executive committee. Hashimoto added that even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself showed its concern when it learned of the article in the magazine and the idea. of the “olympic pig Olympic”.

Sexism is one of the issues that has generated the most stumbling blocks in the organization of the Tokyo Games, but it is not the only problem, nor the most serious. Postponed one year due to the covid pandemic until its scheduled inauguration on July 23 (within 127 days), the Japanese Olympic event has yet to solve and decide how much public will be able to attend the Olympic venues and whether it will permanently ban, as it has advanced in probe balloon, the assistance of foreign fans, a measure that would generate serious losses to all investors in the tourism sector, the hotel and restaurant industry and sellers of merchandising products.

Neither has it been decided whether the more than 10,000 athletes who will compete after the controversy led by the IOC when accepting the donation of vaccines offered by the Chinese government, which could only be administered to athletes from countries that will be required to be vaccinated in advance, have not been decided. They have approved one of the two Chinese vaccines, Sinovac and Sinopharm, and that a few weeks ago they were only Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Emirates, Bahrain, Brazil and Chile.

The Tokyo organizing committee is now crossing its fingers that next Thursday there will be no problems with the masses of spectators who are expected to attend the ceremony of the restart of the Olympic torch relay, suspended a year ago. The events will take place, symbolically, in Fukushima, 10 years after the tsunami and the nuclear disaster, and will take place on the training ground of the soccer team. It will be precisely the players of the Japanese women’s World Cup champion team who will carry the flame on its 121-day trip to the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

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