Hashimoto Seiko has appeared in seven Olympics, 4 within the winter and three in the summertime — probably the most by any “multi-season” athlete within the video games.
She made much more historical past on February 18 in Japan, the place ladies are nonetheless uncommon within the boardrooms and positions of political energy.
The 56-year-old Hashimoto was named president of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee after a gathering of its govt board, which is 80 % male. She replaces 83-year-old Mori Yoshiro, a former Japanese prime minister who was compelled to resign final week after making sexist feedback about ladies.
Primarily, he mentioned ladies discuss an excessive amount of.
“Now I’m right here to return what I owe as an athlete and to return again what I obtained,” Hashimoto informed the board, in keeping with an interpreter.
Hashimoto had been serving because the Olympic minister within the cupboard of Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide. She additionally held a portfolio coping with gender equality and ladies’s empowerment. She mentioned she would get replaced as Olympic minister by Marukawa Tamayo.
She introduced up the difficulty of gender equality repeatedly, and targeted on issues on the Organizing Committee, which is male-dominated, has no feminine vice presidents, and has an govt board made up of 80 % males. It employs about 3,500 folks.
“After all, it is vitally essential what Tokyo 2020 as an Organizing Committee does about gender equality,” she mentioned, sitting between two males — CEO Muto Toshiro and spokesman Takaya Masa. “I feel will probably be essential for Tokyo 2020 to observe equality.”
Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach mentioned Hashimoto was “the proper alternative” for the job.
“With the appointment of a lady as president, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee can also be sending a vital sign with regard to gender equality,” Bach mentioned in a press release.
Hashimoto competed in biking in three Summer time Olympics (1988, 1992 and 1996) and in speedskating in 4 Winter Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992 and 1994). She gained a bronze medal — her solely medal — on the 1992 Albertville Video games in speedskating.
In response to historian Dr. Invoice Mallon, her seven appearances is probably the most by any “multi-season” athlete within the video games.
Japan-born Naomi Osaka, talking about Hashimoto after her semifinal victory over Serena Williams on the Australian Open, mentioned, “You’re seeing the newer technology not tolerate numerous issues.”
“I really feel prefer it’s actually good since you’re pushing ahead, limitations are being damaged down, particularly for females,” Osaka mentioned. “We’ve needed to struggle for thus many issues simply to be equal. Even numerous issues we nonetheless aren’t equal.”
The brand new president is tied to the Olympics in some ways. She was born in Hokkaido in northern Japan simply 5 days earlier than the opening ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Video games. Her identify “Seiko” comes from “seika,” which interprets as Olympic flame in English.
In response to extensively circulated experiences in Japan, Hashimoto was reluctant to take the job and was one in every of three last candidates thought of by a range committee headed by 85-year-old Mitarai Fujio of the digicam firm Canon.
The choice committee met for 3 consecutive days, a rushed appointment with the postponed Olympics opening in simply over 5 months in the course of a pandemic and going through myriad issues.
Polls present about 80 % of the Japanese public need the Olympics canceled or postponed once more. There may be worry about bringing tens of hundreds of athletes and others into Japan, which has managed the coronavirus higher than most international locations.
There may be additionally opposition to the hovering prices.
The official value is $15.4 billion, although a number of authorities audits say the worth is no less than $25 billion, the costliest Summer time Olympics on report in keeping with a College of Oxford research.
Naming a lady might be a breakthrough for gender equality in Japan, the place females are under-represented in boardrooms and in politics. Japan ranks 121st out of 153 international locations on the World Financial Discussion board’s annual gender equality rating.
Mori, earlier than stepping down, tried to supply the job final week to 84-year-old Kawabuchi Saburo, a former head of the nation’s soccer federation. However experiences of the behind-closed-door deal have been extensively criticized by social media, on Japanese discuss reveals, and in newspaper experiences.
Kawabuchi rapidly withdrew from additional consideration.
Hashimoto will not be with out her critics. A Japanese journal in 2014 ran images of her kissing determine skater Takahashi Daisuke at a celebration through the Sochi Olympics, suggesting it was sexual harassment, or energy harassment. She later apologized, and Takahashi mentioned he didn’t really feel harassed.
“About my reckless actions, I really feel remorse for an motion I took seven years in the past,” she mentioned when requested about it on Thursday. “Again then in addition to right now, I’m nonetheless reflecting on myself and what I’ve finished — and what it has advanced into.”
Two different former Olympians have been additionally reported to have been within the operating for Mori’s job: Yamashita Yasuhiro, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee who gained gold in judo in 1984, and Kotani Mikako, who gained two bronze medals in synchronized swimming on the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Kotani is the sports activities director for the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee. That committee’s management is dominated by males, who make up 80 % of the chief board.
Japan started to roll out vaccines on February 17, a essential transfer that may increase the Olympics. It’s a number of months behind Britain, the USA and different international locations.
Widespread vaccination is unlikely in Japan when the Olympics open on July 23 with 11,000 athletes, adopted by the Paralympics on August 24 with 4,400 athletes. The plan is to maintain the athletes in a “bubble” on the Athletes Village, at venues and at coaching areas. The IOC has mentioned it is not going to require “contributors” to be vaccinated, however is encouraging it.
Along with the athletes, tens of hundreds of officers, media, sponsors, and broadcasters can even need to enter Japan. Lots of them will function outdoors the “bubble” in an Olympics that’s pushed by tv and the billions the IOC receives from promoting broadcast rights.
The primary problem for Hashimoto might be pulling off the torch relay that begins on March 25 in northeastern Japan. It would crisscross the nation with about 10,000 runners, and finish on the opening ceremony in Tokyo.
By Stephen Wade for the Related Press in Tokyo, Japan.