Hashimoto Takes Over As Tokyo 2020 Chief: IOC, IPC And Naomi Osaka Welcome Appointment

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Seiko Hashimoto has been appointed as head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, replacing Yoshiro Mori who resigned last week amid an uproar over sexist remarks.

Hashimoto – who represented Japan at three Summer Games and four Winter Olympics – had been serving as the Olympic minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga while also holding a portfolio dealing with gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Her appointment was announced on Thursday and the 56-year-old stressed that safety is the priority with the Olympics fast approaching amid a pandemic.


The Olympic Rings in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Tokyo 2020

Hashimoto appeared at seven Olympics between 1984 and 1996, competing in speed skating at four Winter Games and track cycling at three Summer Games. She won bronze in the women’s 1,500-meter speed skating event at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.

Born in Hokkaido just five days before the opening of the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo, her name Seiko is written with the same first character, “seika,” used to mean the Olympic flame in Japanese.

Hashimoto told the executive board meeting:

“I am very honoured to be elected as President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is a big responsibility to be the President of the Tokyo Organising Committee. It is sobering.

“Earlier today, I submitted a request to Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide to resign as Minister of State at the Prime Minister’s office. I would like to thank the members of the Tokyo Organising Committee for their support during this time.

“It was a big decision for me to resign as Minister, but I stand here with the desire to make the Tokyo 2020 Games a success.

“I think the Tokyo 2020 Games, which are five months away, must be a safe and secure event with COVID-19 countermeasures being the most important factor. As the Minister of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, I have been doing my best to support various organisations including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo Organising Committee, the IOC and the IPC.

“As part of the Tokyo Organising Committee, I will further accelerate efforts to build a collaborative framework with the national government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to convince everyone, both in Japan and around the world, that Tokyo 2020 is “the safe and secure Games.

“In addition, my appointment as President is important for gender equality. At the recent joint round-table conference between the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of the Organising Committee, it was decided to increase the proportion of women within the Board of Directors and to create a team to promote gender equality.

“I think we have to work on this quickly. It is important to come up with working groups and produce results within a month, and I appreciate all your efforts with this matter.

“Diversity and Inclusion is the vision of the Tokyo 2020 Games, but I would like all members of the Organising Committee to confirm this first. I would like to create a legacy that recognises everyone, regardless of gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, etc., and build a society where they can coexist.

“The Tokyo 2020 Games have been postponed for the first time in Olympic history. Postponement is something no-one has ever experienced. We will create a working team within the Organising Committee to propose a template for how to run an Olympic and Paralympic Games in this challenging environment, including diversity, to the IOC, IPC and the government, and how to utilise this experience for the future.

“I believe the meaning and mission of the Tokyo 2020 Games will not exist unless the Organising Committee has the power to have the vision for this. To that end, I would like to make every effort to achieve the success of the Tokyo Organising Committee, as the President of the Organising Committee, utilising the most of my experience.”

IOC President Bach Among Several Welcoming Appointment

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Thomas Bach, IOC president – Photo Courtesy: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Her appointment was welcomed by Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, who said:

“My heartfelt congratulations go to my fellow Olympian Hashimoto Seiko on her appointment as President of the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020.

“With her great Olympic experience, having won a medal, participated in seven editions of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Winter Games, and having led Japan’s delegation to the Olympic Games multiple times, she is the perfect choice for this position.

“She will ensure that the focus in the final months of preparation remains on the athletes’ experience while planning all the necessary COVID-19 countermeasures.

“Seiko Hashimoto can draw on her rich political experience as a Minister and many other political functions. This will help to deliver safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in partnership between the Organising Committee, the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the IOC.

“With the appointment of a woman as President, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee is also sending a very important signal with regard to gender equality, which is one of the topics we addressed in Olympic Agenda 2020, the reform programme for the IOC and the Olympic Movement.

“We stand ready to support the OCOG and other organisations in their desired aims within their spheres of responsibility.”

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Photo Courtesy: IPC

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said:

“I would like to congratulate Ms Hashimoto on her appointment as the new President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

“She is familiar to us due to her former role as Olympic and Paralympic Games Minister and made a great impression on me each time we have met or communicated previously. The IPC & Paralympic Movement look forward to working with her and wish her the best of luck in her new role.

“Ms. Hashimoto will lead a fantastic team, the strongest and best prepared Organising Committee and host city the IPC has ever had the pleasure of working with.

“In making a swift decision, I would also like to thank the Candidate Review Committee and the Executive Board for following a transparent and thorough recruitment process.

“With just six months to go until the start of the Paralympics, and even less time for the Olympics, it was essential that no time was left to waste in replacing Mr Mori.”

Tennis player Naomi Osaka – who was born in Osaka, Japan and who reached the final of the Australian Open by defeating Serena Williams – said:

“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.”


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