Seiko Hashimoto takes over as Tokyo Olympic president

TOKYO (AP) — Seiko Hashimoto has appeared in seven Olympics, 4 within the winter and three in the summertime — probably the most by any “multi-season” athlete within the video games.

She made much more historical past on Thursday in Japan, the place girls are nonetheless uncommon within the boardrooms and positions of political energy.

The 56-year-old Hashimoto was named president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee after a gathering of its government board, which is 80% male. She replaces 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister who was compelled to resign final week after making sexist feedback about girls.

Basically, he stated girls speak an excessive amount of.

“Now I’m right here to return what I owe as an athlete and to return again what I obtained,” Hashimoto advised the board, in accordance with an interpreter.

Hashimoto had been serving because the Olympic minister within the cupboard of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. She additionally held a portfolio coping with gender equality and ladies’s empowerment. She stated she would get replaced as Olympic minister by Tamayo Marukawa.

She introduced up the problem of gender equality repeatedly, and targeted on issues on the organizing committee, which is male-dominated, has no feminine vice presidents and has an government board made up of 80% males. It employs about 3,500 individuals.

“In fact, it is rather necessary what Tokyo 2020 as an organizing committee does about gender equality,” she stated, sitting between two males — CEO Toshiro Muto and spokesman Masa Takaya. “I feel it is going to be necessary for Tokyo 2020 to apply equality.”

Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach stated Hashimoto was “the right selection” for the job.

“With the appointment of a lady as president, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee can also be sending an important sign with regard to gender equality,” Bach stated in an announcement.

Hashimoto competed in biking in three Summer season Olympics (1988, 1992 and 1996) and in speedskating in 4 Winter Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992 and 1994). She received a bronze medal — her solely medal — on the 1992 Albertville Video games in speedskating.

In accordance with historian Dr. Invoice Mallon, her seven appearances is probably the most by any “multi-season” athlete within the video games.

Japan-born Naomi Osaka, talking about Hashimoto after her semifinal victory over Serena Williams on the Australian Open, stated “you’re seeing the newer technology not tolerate a variety of issues.”

“I really feel prefer it’s actually good since you’re pushing ahead, obstacles are being damaged down, particularly for females,” Osaka stated. “We’ve needed to battle for therefore many issues simply to be equal. Even a variety of issues we nonetheless aren’t equal.”

The brand new president is tied to the Olympics in some ways. She was born in Hokkaido in northern Japan simply 5 days earlier than the opening ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Video games. Her identify “Seiko” comes from “seika,” which interprets as Olympic flame in English.

In accordance with broadly circulated experiences in Japan, Hashimoto was reluctant to take the job and was considered one of three ultimate candidates thought-about by a range committee headed by 85-year-old Fujio Mitarai of the digital camera firm Canon.

The choice committee met for 3 consecutive days, a rushed appointment with the postponed Olympics opening in simply over 5 months in the midst of a pandemic and dealing with myriad issues.

Polls present about 80% of the Japanese public need the Olympics canceled or postponed once more. There’s worry about bringing tens of hundreds of athletes and others into Japan, which has managed the coronavirus higher than most international locations.

There’s additionally opposition to the hovering prices.

The official price is $15.4 billion, although a number of authorities audits say the worth is a minimum of $25 billion, the costliest Summer season Olympics on file in accordance with a College of Oxford examine.

Naming a lady might be a breakthrough for gender equality in Japan, the place females are under-represented in boardrooms and in politics. Japan ranks 121st out of 153 international locations on the World Financial Discussion board’s annual gender equality rating.

Mori, earlier than stepping down, tried to supply the job final week to 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, a former head of the nation’s soccer federation. However experiences of the behind-closed-door deal had been broadly criticized by social media, on Japanese speak reveals, and in newspaper experiences.

Kawabuchi rapidly withdrew from additional consideration.

Hashimoto isn’t with out her critics. A Japanese journal in 2014 ran images of her kissing determine skater Daisuke Takahashi at a celebration throughout the Sochi Olympics, suggesting it was sexual harassment, or energy harassment. She later apologized, and Takahashi stated he didn’t really feel harassed.

“About my reckless actions, I really feel remorse for an motion I took seven years in the past,” she stated when requested about it on Thursday. “Again then in addition to at the moment, I’m nonetheless reflecting on myself and what I’ve achieved — and what it has developed into.”

Two different former Olympians had been additionally reported to have been within the operating for Mori’s job: Yasuhiro Yamashita, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee who received gold in judo in 1984, and Mikako Kotani, who received two bronze medals in synchronized swimming on the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Kotani is the sports activities director for the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. That committee’s management is dominated by males, who make up 80% of the manager board.

Japan started to roll out vaccines on Wednesday, a crucial transfer that may increase the Olympics. It’s a number of months behind Britain, america and different international locations.

Widespread vaccination is unlikely in Japan when the Olympics open on July 23 with 11,000 athletes, adopted by the Paralympics on Aug. 24 with 4,400 athletes. The plan is to maintain the athletes in a “bubble” on the Athletes Village, at venues and at coaching areas. The IOC has stated it won’t require “contributors” to be vaccinated, however is encouraging it.

Along with the athletes, tens of hundreds of officers, media, sponsors and broadcasters may also need to enter Japan. A lot of them will function exterior the “bubble” in an Olympics that’s pushed by tv and the billions the IOC receives from promoting broadcast rights.

The primary problem for Hashimoto might be pulling off the torch relay that begins on March 25 in northeastern Japan. It would crisscross the nation with about 10,000 runners, and finish on the opening ceremony in Tokyo.


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