The head of the Tokyo Olympics has announced his resignation over sexist comments.
Yoshiro Mori had said women talk too much during an online meeting of the committee’s board of trustees earlier this month, where he also said women are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry”.
The former Japanese prime minister, 83, had previously refused to step down and later when asked whether he truly believed women talked too much, he replied: “I don’t listen to women that much lately, so I don’t know.”
He has now told a board meeting he will not continue as Olympics chief, saying the most important thing is that the Games are a success.
“My inappropriate comments caused big trouble. I am sorry,” he said, explaining he had not meant to cause offence and he believed his remarks were misinterpreted.
“I have been trying to support women as much as possible, and I have been trying to support women more than men so they can speak….
“There were times when people would not put their hands up and not speak up, and I would go out of my way to say … please speak and I feel that women have been able to speak a lot.”
It is the latest setback for this year’s Olympics, set to go ahead on 23 July despite large swathes of the public saying they believe the tournament should be postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
A handful of protesters gathered to object to the Games outside the board meeting’s venue.
The troubled competition is now searching for a new chief only five months before it is due to start, as a source told Reuters news agency the controversy had done “serious reputational damage” to the competition.
Mr Mori had asked the mayor of the Olympic village, 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, to take over the role but he has reportedly turned down the job due to public criticism of the new chief being another older male.
Local broadcaster Fuji News Network also reported the government would try to block the nomination of Mr Kawabuchi.
Another candidate being considered is Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto, who is a seven-time Olympian and pioneering female politician.
Her first name is based on the Japanese words for the Olympic flame after she was born days before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics opened.