The Olympics minister replaces Yoshiro Mori, 83, who resigned last week after making sexist comments about women.
Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympian who has competed in seven Games, took over as Tokyo 2020 presidency after the former chief was kicked out over sexist comments.
She was named president of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee on Thursday after a meeting of its predominantly male executive board.
Hashimoto is replacing Yoshiro Mori, 83, a former Japanese prime minister who resigned last week after making sexist comments about women.
Following her nomination, Hashimoto said she “will spare no effort for the success of the Tokyo Games”.
Earlier Thursday, the 56-year-old resigned as one of two women in the Japanese cabinet to take her new post.
Besides his role as Olympic Minister in Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet, Hashimoto also held a portfolio dealing with gender equality and women’s empowerment.
She has competed as a cyclist at three Summer Olympics and as a speed skater at four Winter Olympics. She won a bronze medal – her only medal – in 1992 in the 1,500 meters in speed skating.
Hashimoto was born in 1964 in the Hokkaido region of northern Japan, just five days before the opening ceremony of the last Olympic Games in Tokyo and her parents were inspired by the lighting of the Olympic flame – seika in Japanese – by naming it.
She says that growing up, her father kept telling her ” you were born to go to the Olympics ‘… before I even knew the Olympics were’.
His appointment comes just over five months before the virus-postponed Games, with Japanese public opinion still largely opposed to hosting this massive event this year.
There are fears that tens of thousands of athletes, fans and support teams will come to Japan, which has controlled the coronavirus better than most countries.
There is also opposition to soaring costs.
The official cost is $ 15.4 billion, although several government audits show the price to be at least $ 25 billion, the most expensive summer Olympics on record, according to a University study. from Oxford.
Nominating a woman as Tokyo 2020 president could be a breakthrough for gender equality in Japan, where women are under-represented on boards and in politics. Japan ranks 121st out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s annual ranking on gender equality.
Hashimoto called the cancellation or other postponement “inconceivable”, echoing the sentiments of Tokyo 2020 organizers and the International Olympic Committee.
“For next year’s Games, the athletes will continue to work hard in the environments they find themselves in. So I think we have to organize them at all costs, ”she said in September last year.
Suga, the Japanese prime minister, is likely to appoint Tamayo Marukawa, a former TV host and ruling party lawmaker, as Hashimoto, state television NHK has said.
Marukawa, 50, held this position for about a year.