The resignation of Mori, 83, and a former prime minister, only months before the postponed Summer Games are scheduled to begin, will further erode confidence in the organisers’ ability to pull off the event during a coronavirus pandemic.
Among candidates considered to succeed him is Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, media said.Hashimoto, 56, is a seven-time Olympian and pioneering female lawmaker. Her first name is based on the Japanese words for the Olympic flame and she was born just days before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics opened.
Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, sparked a furore when he said during an Olympic committee meeting earlier this month that women talk too much, setting off a global outcry for him to be sacked though he refused to step down.
“My inappropriate comments caused a big trouble. I am sorry,” Mori said at the start of a meeting of senior officials on the organising committee on Friday, adding that the most important thing now is for the Tokyo Olympics to be a success.
Mori said that though he may have said something unnecessary, he did not do it intentionally and felt his comments were misinterpreted by the media, adding he was not prejudiced against women.
“I have been trying to support women as much as possible, and I have been trying to support women more than men so they can speak....” he said.
“There were times when people would not put their hands up and not speak up, and I would go out of my way to say … please speak and I feel that women have been able to speak a lot.”
Mori on Thursday had asked the mayor of the Olympic Village, 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, to take over the top position, but by Friday public criticism of his hand-picked successor as another older male reportedly saw Kawabuchi turn down the job.