The ouster of the director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Thursday, a day before the ceremony, was the latest incident in which the games revealed uncomfortable truths in a country where many feel discrimination passes without consequences, the newspaper says.Washington Post“.
The Tokyo Games adopted the slogan “Unity in Diversity”, while the Olympic Charter contains no less than six references to combating all forms of discrimination, but the past months witnessed many accidents that affected the largest sports gathering in the world.
Japanese organizers hoped the Olympics would highlight many of the best qualities of samurai country, from its traditions of literature and hospitality to its extremely low crime rate and clean, well-organized cities.
Instead, the games showed that many male elites – mostly older ones – espouse views that drew a sharp reaction as offensive.
“Women talk a lot”
Earlier this year, the head of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, made comments deemed “insulting” to women during a business meeting.
Although he initially refused to resign, Mori, who had previously served as Japan’s prime minister, formally resigned in February, over his comments about women.
Mori, 83, had said in a meeting that women talk a lot during meetings, which caused outrage in Japan.
Mori later apologized for his speech and said: “The statement I made at the Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression. I am deeply remorseful. I would like to retract this statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings.”
In March, the Tokyo 2020 Games received another blow in the form of an offensive comment about a Japanese actress that came from the creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies.
The creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics, Hiroshi Sasaki, announced that he would resign after making insulting comments about a Japanese comedian.
It was reported that Sasaki suggested that the famous actress, Naomi Watanabe, appear at the opening ceremony as a “pig”, in an ironic reference to her extra weight.
Subsequently, Sasaki, who is responsible for all opening and closing ceremonies, issued a statement through the organizing committee, apologizing to the actress and acknowledging his use of an “inappropriate expression.”
Bullying people with special needs
A few days ago, the composer of the Olympic performances, Keigo Aoyamada, stepped down after revealing that he had bullied his schoolmates, including those with special needs, during his childhood.
And Oyamada expressed his deep remorse for what he did as a child, and this is what made the Tokyo 2020 Games organizers confirm that he can stay in his position.
But the organizing committee said Monday that it believes “this decision was a mistake and we have decided to accept his resignation. We sincerely apologize.”
A day before the opening, the setbacks accompanying the Tokyo 2020 Olympics continued after organizers announced the dismissal of the opening ceremony director, following news reports about his previous comments about the “Holocaust”.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at a press briefing that Kentaro Kobayashi had been expelled due to previous comments that ridiculed the tragedy.
The Japanese newspaper, Mainichi, had quoted a report reviewing a statement by an Israeli organization, based in the United States, that condemned Kobayashi’s previous comments.
According to the newspaper, Kobayashi was a member of the Japanese comedy group “Ramens”, as he is believed to have participated in a satirical play in 1998, in which he made some “anti-Semitic jokes”.
Despite his dismissal, Kobayashi, who was to oversee all opening and closing ceremonies, issued a statement of apology read out by 2020 Olympics president Seiko Hashimoto after his ouster was announced.
For his part, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu said in a statement that Kobayashi’s comments “regardless of their context or position, are deeply offensive and unacceptable.”
“Such comments are completely at odds with the value of unity that the Olympic and Paralympic Games strive for, and with our goal of achieving a society in which all can live in harmony.”
“The government of Japan, for its part, will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that the Tokyo 2020 Games will truly represent the Olympic and Paralympic spirit,” Toshimitsu added.
Each of those events was preceded by an outcry on social media, often led by young Japanese who found officials’ public apologies inadequate, coupled with the intense global media attention and scrutiny that the Olympics bring.
“The succession of scandals reflects deeper aspects of a country that ranked 120th in the latest gender gap rankings in the World Economic Forum,” the worst position among the Group of Seven industrialized nations, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch told The Washington Post.
Human Rights Watch has also extensively documented the problem of bullying against children, LGBT people, and against athletes.
“These scandals … are the result of the lack of basic human rights protection systems in the country,” Worden wrote, adding, “There are no national human rights institutions or commissions, as is common throughout Asia.”
In May, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party dropped plans to pass a law against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender after opposition from its lawmakers.