The president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, is expected to resign after derogatory comments he made about women caused an international uproar less than six months before the Games are due to open.
Mori, who has led the organising committee since 2014, will step down after insisting for days that he would not resign, the Fuji News Network reported on Thursday.
He is expected to announce his resignation on Friday when the executive board of the organising committee meets to discuss its response to the controversy, the Mainichi Shimbun said.
Mori, a former prime minister, has come under mounting pressure to give up his post after he told a meeting of the Japan Olympic Committee earlier this month that “talkative women” made meetings “drag on”.
Referring to his time as chairman of the Japan Rugby Football Union, the 83-year-old said: “Women have a strong sense of rivalry. If one raises her hand to speak, all the others feel the need to speak, too. Everyone ends up saying something.”
He later apologised and retracted the remarks – conceding that they had been “inappropriate” – but the fallout has intensified in recent days, frustrating attempts by Tokyo 2020 organisers and the International Olympic Committee to convince the world that it will be possible to hold the Games during the coronavirus pandemic.
His remarks, which came as Japanese sports organisations are trying to increase the number of women in senior positions, sparked a backlash in Japan and overseas.
The Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka was one of several athletes to condemn the comments, while female politicians in Japan attended a parliamentary session this week dressed in white in a symbolic protest.
Hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic volunteers have resigned in the past week, and organisers and the Tokyo metropolitan government have been inundated with complaints.
On Wednesday, the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, raised the stakes when she said she would boycott a key meeting scheduled for next week that was to include Mori, Japan’s sports minister Seiko Hashimoto and the IOC president Thomas Bach.