What you need to know:
- At the tail end of his term, Mori incurred the wrath of the public for continuing to play a game of golf even after he had been informed that a Japanese ship had sank. He brought negative attention that organisers of the 2020 Olympic Games can ill-afford at present.
- The Olympics are hanging in the balance as Tokyo faces a surge in new infections, with organisers struggling to win over a sceptical public less than six months before the start.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of USA who is also credited with ending slavery in the country, once said it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
Indeed those who run their mouths run the risk of exposing flaws in their character which would otherwise escape public attention.
Having a big mouth leads to big problems, and Yoshiro Mori, head of 2020 Olympic Games, learnt this the hard way last week. Mori was forced to resign on Friday over sexist remarks he made on February 3, kicking up a storm internationally.
After a week-long storm following sexist remarks by the 83-year-old former Japanese Prime Minister, he resigned and apologised. In a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee held on February 3, Mori had said that women “talk too much” and are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.”
“Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, I need to say something too. That’s why everyone speaks,” Mori said, kicking up an international storm. I took time to decipher the context of Mori’s words from media reports in Japan.
Up for discussion in the meeting was how to raise the ratio of female directors in Japanese Olympic Committee which had been set at 40 percent in line with the country’s governance code. At the meeting, Mori sought to point out that board meetings with a lot of female directors take so much time.
“The Education Ministry has been making a fuss about increasing female directors. If I say too much, the newspapers are going to write that I said bad things, but I heard somebody say that if we are to increase the number of female board members, we have to regulate speaking time to some extent, or else we’ll never be able to finish. I am not going to say who said that,” Japanese media reported him as saying.
“We have about seven women on our (Olympic) committee. They are experienced in international arenas. That’s why their talk is sophisticated, gets to the point, and they are very useful,” he continued. During the meeting. The remarks were greeted with condemnation, and it did not help things that the executive board of 2020 Olympic Games is overwhelmingly male.
The next day, Mori apologised for his remarks which were obviously at variance with the objective of the Olympic Games which seek “to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
Indeed having a running mouth can be a big burden to an individual. Old age is synonymous with wisdom, the same can’t be said of the 83-year-old Mori whose apology kicked up a bigger storm when he added the words “I don’t speak to women much.”
It turns out that the former Japanese Prime Minister who presided over one of the country’s shortest and least popular governments is not new to gaffes. As prime minister for just one year between April 2000 and 2001, Mori declared Japan “a country of gods centred around the emperor”, a highly controversial statement that potentially violated Japan’s constitution which separates religion and politics.
At the tail end of his term, Mori incurred the wrath of the public for continuing to play a game of golf even after he had been informed that a Japanese ship had sank. He brought negative attention that organisers of the 2020 Olympic Games can ill-afford at present.
The Olympics are hanging in the balance as Tokyo faces a surge in new infections, with organisers struggling to win over a sceptical public less than six months before the start. With him gone, the rest of the team can concentrate on getting ready for11,000 athletes for the postponed 2020 Olympics and later 4,400 Paralympic athletes.