Osaka hails Hashimoto’s appointment as Tokyo Olympics chief a boost for equality

Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka Thursday welcomed the resignation of gaffe-prone Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori and his replacement by a woman as a big boost in the drive for equality.

Naomi Osaka has welcomed Seiko Hashimoto's appointment as Tokyo Olympics chief
Naomi Osaka has welcomed Seiko Hashimoto’s appointment as Tokyo Olympics chief AFP/ROB PREZIOSO

MELBOURNE: Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka Thursday welcomed the resignation of gaffe-prone Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori and his replacement by a woman as a big boost in the drive for equality.

Mori, 83, quit last week over widely condemned sexist remarks after saying that women “have difficulty” speaking concisely, “which is annoying”.

It sparked a chorus of criticism from sports stars and politicians, including three-time Grand Slam winner Osaka who condemned the remarks as “ignorant”.

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto was named as his replacement Thursday, barely five months before the virus-postponed Games, with public opinion in Japan still largely against holding the massive event.

READ: Former Olympic athlete Hashimoto chosen as head of Tokyo 2020 organising committee

Osaka, a leading face of the Games in her home nation, said the appointment of the seven-time Olympian, who was also minister for gender equality and women’s empowerment, was a positive move.

“I think for me, what it means is that there’s a lot of things I think people used to accept, the things that used to be said, but you’re seeing the newer generation not tolerate a lot of things,” she said in Melbourne.

“I feel like it’s really good because you’re pushing forward, barriers are being broken down, especially for females.

“We’ve had to fight for so many things just to be equal. Even a lot of things, we still aren’t equal. Yeah, I thought that was a good thing,” added the 23-year-old after blasting past Serena Williams and into the Australian Open final Thursday.

Osaka, the world’s top-earning female athlete, emerged as a potent voice on social issues last year when she wore facemasks highlighting victims of racism and police brutality at the US Open.

She remains keen to compete at the Olympics, which start in July, but has said public approval was crucial for them to go ahead.