Tokyo [Japan], March 18 (ANI): The organising committee of the summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics said on Thursday it has accepted its creative director's offer to resign after he suggested a plus-size female celebrity dress as a pig for the opening ceremony.
Kyodo News reported that after a magazine report, Hiroshi Sasaki admitted in the early hours of Thursday that he proposed last year to a group of planning team members that celebrity Naomi Watanabe come down from the sky in a pig costume to play the role of an "Olympig" for a segment of the Olympic opening ceremony.
"It is very inappropriate to make comments that ridicule people's appearances," Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing body, said in a press conference. As reported by Kyodo News "Mr. Sasaki has said in his statement that the comments were insulting, and I believe that it was something that should have never happened."
The departure of the head director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Games follows that of Yoshiro Mori, who stepped down from his role as president of the organizing committee last month after causing an uproar with sexist remarks.
Kyodo News further reported that Hashimoto said the organizing committee will try to find Sasaki's successor as soon as possible, but the new creative director will still need to design the ceremonies largely based on his ideas given the limited time remaining until the games.
Watanabe, in a statement said on Thursday that she is "honestly surprised" to hear that Sasaki had proposed casting her at the opening ceremony as an "Olympig."
Hashimoto said she spoke on the phone with John Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, to explain that her organization will take sufficient measures to address the issue.
"I was shocked when I read the headline of the article," said Hashimoto, who has pledged to improve gender equality in the committee, and has emphasized that diversity and inclusion are among the fundamental values of the Tokyo Olympics.
Sasaki, who is in charge of all four opening and closing ceremonies for the Tokyo Games, released a statement through the organizing committee, apologizing to Watanabe and admitting his proposal to a group of planning members through the messaging app Line, suggesting to play on the word "Olympic" with "Olympig."
"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," he said. "I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."
Kyodo News further reported that he said that he retracted the idea after it was criticized by the members. The chief executive creative director of the games said he had phoned Hashimoto, who took over the top job from Mori and offered his resignation.
"I tend to joke often, so I said it just as something that slipped out of my mouth ... (the idea of Watanabe) wearing a cute pink costume and sticking her tongue out as an 'Olympig.' I thought that would make her look charming, but I was immediately reprimanded by male staff. I feel remorse," Sasaki was quoted as saying by the magazine. (ANI)