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Tokyo Olympics creative head resigns over derogatory remark

Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki said he has resigned after making a derogatory comment about a popular female Japanese entertainer, in the latest controversy over insensitive remarks towards women to hit Games organizers. Sasaki, who was the head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year's Games, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an "Olympig."

"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," Sasaki said in a statement issued through Games organizers in the early hours of Thursday. "I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."

Sasaki said he had told Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto late on Wednesday evening that he was stepping down.

Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto plan to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday, organizers said.

Sasaki's resignation came swiftly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday.

Last month, Yoshiro Mori stepped down from his role as president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee after causing a furore with sexist remarks 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 looked to revamp plans for simplified ceremonies after the Tokyo Games were pushed back 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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