Tokyo Games Creative Chief Quits over Derogatory Remarks

Sports

Tokyo, March 18 (Jiji Press)--Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies of this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, has resigned over his derogatory remarks toward popular female entertainer Naomi Watanabe, Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee of the games, said Thursday.

"The remarks were very inappropriate and regrettable," Hashimoto said at a press conference, stressing that the organizing committee promotes gender equality. "We are very sorry for the remarks," she also said.

"Remarks that make fun of someone's appearance are inappropriate" Hashimoto also said, adding that the organizing committee has accepted Sasaki's offer to quit as creative director.

While showing the committee's intention to quickly select a replacement of Sasaki, Hashimoto said it would be very difficult to produce the opening and closing ceremonies from scratch given that there are only four months to go before the start of the Tokyo Games. She suggested that the committee will make preparations based on the plans laid out mainly by Sasaki.

The resignation of Sasaki, 66, came after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported in its online edition Wednesday that he made a suggestion on March 5 last year that insults Watanabe, 33, a plus-size fashion icon. The idea would be to have Watanabe dress up as a mascot called "Olympig" and appear in the opening ceremony, according to a letter of apology from Sasaki and the organizing committee's explanation.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press