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Tokyo Olympics creative head resigns over derogatory remark

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Sasaki, who was the lead creative director of this year’s Games opening and closing ceremonies, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as and “Olympig.”

“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and comments,” Sasaki said in a statement issued through Games organizers in the early hours of Thursday. “I sincerely apologize to her and the people who have been upset with this content.”

Sasaki said he had told the president of Tokyo 2020 Seiko Hashimoto Wednesday evening in the afternoon he left office.

Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto are scheduled to address the issue at a press conference on Thursday, organizers said.

Sasaki’s resignation came quickly after the weekly Shukan Bunshun reported his statements on Wednesday.

Last month, Yoshiro Mori left the post of his role as chairman of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee after provoking outrage with sexist comments when he said women talk too much.

Mori, 83, a former prime minister, was replaced by athlete turned politician Hashimoto, who has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the Games.

Sasaki was named head of the creative team in December as Olympic organizers sought to renew plans for simplified ceremonies after the Tokyo Games were withdrawn a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Olympics are scheduled from July 23 to August 8 and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.

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