TOKYO — Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori is expected to resign on Friday over sexist comments he made early this month, with the mayor of the Olympic village, Saburo Kawabuchi, saying Mori had asked him to take over.
Kawabuchi said he was in tears before a meeting where he accepted Mori’s request on Thursday.
“Mr. Mori was straightforward saying ‘I want you to take over now this happened’,” Kawabuchi, 84, told reporters late on Thursday.
“I thought how hard it must be for him and I couldn’t stop crying,” said Kawabuchi.
The 83-year-old Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, sparked a global outcry with sexist comments that women talk too much, which he made during an Olympic committee meeting.
Mori has apologised for his comments but has so far not resigned despite growing calls for him to step down.
His resignation less than six months before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin are likely to raise new doubts over the viability of holding the postponed Games this year.
Games officials are already struggling with how to hold a safe Olympics, with tens of thousands of athletes and possibly spectators, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kawabuchi, who has represented Japan in football at the 1964 Olympics and is a former Japan Football Association president, said he wants Mori to play a consulting role in the Games to help make the event a success.
The choice of Kawabuchi prompted questions on social media about whether there was no better alternative than an older, male figure.
Later on Friday, the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, which has not officially commented on Mori’s resignation, plans to hold a meeting of its council and executive board, followed by a press conference.
Mori will explain his position at Friday’s meeting, Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told parliament, referring to a phone call with Mori.
Hashimoto said the government would continue to work with other parties including the International Olympic Committee, to prepare for the event based on Olympic principles.