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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Mori's sexist remarks trigger exodus of Tokyo Olympics volunteers

Organizing committee accepts 390 resignations and fields a flood of complaints

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori's sexist remarks have set off an uproar at home and abroad.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Roughly 390 volunteers for the Summer Olympics here have resigned following Tokyo organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori's derogatory comments on women, the committee reported Monday.

Most of the resignations were over Mori's statement last Wednesday that board meetings with women "take too much time." Two torch relay runners have also said they hoped to quit, the committee said.

The flood of resignations came between Thursday and noon Monday. The committee fielded roughly 4,550 phone calls and emails over Mori's comments.

The committee has recruited approximately 80,000 volunteers to guide spectators through venues, among other duties. The games, postponed a year amid the pandemic, are slated to open in July.

Tokyo also runs its own program for volunteers who will work outside Olympic venues. Fifty-three volunteers resigned between Thursday and 5 p.m. Monday, according to the city.

Tokyo received 1,162 complaints via telephone and e-mail regarding Mori, a former prime minister. Some said his words would cause "misunderstandings" abroad, while others said he "did not look like he was apologizing" at a press conference" and should "take responsibility."

Mori had made the comments at a Japanese Olympic Committee meeting in response to a government initiative to increase the ratio of women directors. Women take up an inordinate amount of time in board meetings because they "have a strong sense of competition," he had said.

"If one person raises their hand, others probably think, 'I need to say something too,'" he had said. "That's why everyone speaks."

Mori apologized for and retracted the remarks in a news conference the next day but said he had no intention of stepping down. 

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