Baron Pierre de Coubertin invented the Olympic Games as a pure and only masculine space, so that the youth who would later have to go to war would take a liking for exercise and become stronger. The conquest of this Olympic space by women and women’s sport has been slow and has not yet concluded. In the first Olympic Games of the modern era, Athens 1896, there was not a woman among the 245 participants, and in dates as close and as modern as Barcelona 92, the number of women among the almost 10,000 participating athletes did not even reach 30 % (2,708 women). Total parity, calculated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will be reached in Paris 2024 (10,570 expected athletes, 5,235 women and as many men), but even so, the members of the IOC announce proudly and joyfully from their headquarters in Lausanne, In its vast majority men, the Tokyo appointment in 2021 will be very close to that parity, with 48.6% of women.
Such joy for equality seems, however, not fully shared by Yoshirō Mori, the chairman of the Tokyo organizing committee, who does not seem to think that women even have the right to sit at the tables of executive committees or boards of directors. Mori, 83, and Japanese prime minister between 2000 and 2001, participated a few days ago in a meeting of the board of directors of the Japanese Olympic Committee, and in it he said: “In meetings with many women, the meetings are very long. If you increase the number of women in the executive but do not control the time in which they are allowed to speak, it is difficult for them to finish their interventions, which is very annoying. They love to compete against each other. ” In the executive committee of the Japanese Olympic Committee there are only five women among its 24 members, and it was precisely at that meeting that a request to increase the female quota was debated. And on the board of the organizing committee chaired by Mori, only seven of its 36 members are women.
Although Mori apologized, in his own way, shortly after at a press conference – “I am deeply sorry,” he said, and then, when asked if he really thought women talked too much, he replied, “I don’t know, lately I haven’t been. I hear a lot… ”- a popular resignation petition quickly gathered more than 136,000 signatures, forcing the IOC, who had first considered the case“ closed ”, to issue another statement this Tuesday in which it affirmed that Mori’s comments“ are absolutely inappropriate and clearly contradict the IOC’s commitment and the reforms set out in its 2020 Agenda ”. Even so, there has been no request from the IOC for him to resign.
The Japanese press reported, meanwhile, that upon seeing the extent of his mistake, Mori wanted to resign, but was persuaded not to leave by the members of his own committee, beginning with the CEO, Toshirō Mutō. “When I proposed to resign and looked around, those who did not speak, cried,” Mori said, according to the press. “And what convinced me to continue were Muto’s words when he said that if I left, what would become of the 5,000 people that make up the organization …”.
The latest public relations move promoted by Mutō on behalf of the organizing committee was an apology email sent to the nearly 80,000 volunteers in Tokyo 2020, some of whom resigned as a result of Mori’s statements. “Our vision is one of diversity and harmony,” says the email, according to the Kyodo agency. “We want to run an event that aspires to reflect a society in which all of our many differences are accepted as natural.”