A second Tokyo Olympics official has stepped down in controversy in as many months.
Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director of the Tokyo Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies, has stepped down after it was reported that he suggested dressing a female celebrity, comedian Naomi Watanabe, in a pig costume for the opening ceremony and calling her an “Olympig,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Sasaki made the comments, which he described as being a joking suggestion, in March 2020 in an online chat, in which his colleagues reportedly pushed back on them as offensive.
“I cannot apologize enough to Ms. Watanabe,” Sasaki said, per The New York Times. “I have been trying not to hurt others by making fun of diversity, gender and physical appearances. But it was a great misunderstanding. I realized my low consciousness and insensitivity.”
The controversy comes after Yoshiro Mori, then the president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, drew outrage in February when he said that woman talk too much in meetings. He at first said he had no plans to step down, though he later did so, saying at the time, “Just when we were preparing to definitely hold the Games, I, as president, said something I shouldn’t have said.”
The Times noted that in contrast to that previous controversy, Sasaki’s resignation came only hours after his comments were reported. Seiko Hashimoto, who took over as Tokyo 2020 president after Mori stepped aside, said she has made “gender equality one of our key initiatives to restore everyone’s trust,” and “this kind of problem should never have happened.”