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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 February 17 - 23  > Tokyo Olympic organizing committee’s choice of its new head poses several questions
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2021 February 17 - 23 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee’s choice of its new head poses several questions

February 19, 2021

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) on February 18 announced its decision to select Liberal Democratic Party Upper House member Hashimoto Seiko as the successor to former president Mori Yoshiro who was forced to resign over his sexist remarks.

Hashimoto was the Olympic Minister of the Suga Cabinet. Ahead of the organizing committee’s announcement, she submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide because the cabinet’s ministerial code of conduct bans ministers from taking concurrent positions in public organizations.

The selection of Hashimoto as the Tokyo Olympic head is questionable from the viewpoint of transparency. Pushed by a public call for the new head be selected in a transparent manner, the organizing committee set up a selection committee. However, it failed to disclose any information about the selection committee, including committee meeting records and the names of committee members other than the committee chair.

Furthermore, the organizing committee’s choice has come into question in regard to the political neutrality of the Olympic Movement.

Hashimoto belongs to the same LDP faction as Mori. In addition, many LDP lawmakers in the Diet and in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly sit on the organizing committee’s executive board. This may not only distort the Olympism principle of maintaining political neutrality but also influence the organizing committee’s judgement on the holding of the Summer Games amid the ongoing pandemic.

As shown in many opinion polls, 80% of the general public in Japan do not support the opening of the Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo. Meanwhile, the ruling LDP sticks to holding the Summer Games with the aim of making it work to its advantage in the general election which will be held in autumn at the latest. Under these circumstances, there are some concerns whether the organizing committee can maintain its political neutrality. The need is for the organizing committee to be free from political influence and make an adequate and evidence-based decision on the Summer Games.

The organizing committee’s appointment of Hashimoto to the post of president arouses ethical questions as Hashimoto in the past came under fire over a sexual harassment scandal which was revealed in a weekly magazine. According to the magazine report, in 2014, at a dinner party after the Sochi Winter Olympics, Hashimoto, who headed the Japanese delegation for the Sochi Olympics, forced a top male Japanese figure skater to accept her kisses. Is it ethically acceptable to place Hashimoto to be the head of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee?

Past related article:
> Shii comments on Tokyo Olympics organizing committee president’s resignation over sexist remarks [February 13, 2021]
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