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Seiko Hashimoto named Tokyo Olympics chief

February 18, 2021

Hashimoto has resigned from her role as Japan's Olympics Minister to head up the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee after the previous president stepped down after he made derogatory remarks about women.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee speaks during the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board meeting.
Hashimoto replaces Yoshiro Mori after his sexist remarks Image: Yuichi Yamazaki/AP/picture alliance

Japan's seven-time Olympic athlete Seiko Hashimoto was officially appointed as new president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Thursday. 

The 56-year-old woman had served as Japan's Olympic Minister. She replaces    Yoshiro Mori, who was forced to resign after making comments to the effect that "women speak too much."

"The Olympics' fundamental principle is to promote women's advancement in sport at all levels and organizations in order to realize gender equality," Hashimoto said. 

What was Hashimoto's Olympic record? 

Hashimoto competed as a speed skater and sprint cyclist at seven consecutive winter and summer Games. She won a bronze medal for skating in 1992.  

She previously said that her father raised her to compete in the Olympics, "even before I knew what the Olympics was."

The Japanese delegation for the Sochi Olympics Seiko Hashimoto (in front of a microphone) cheers with members of the delegation during a send-off ceremony for the Sochi Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, 20 January 2014.
Hashimoto was the head of the Japanese Olympic delegation to Sochi 2014Image: Kiyoshi Ota/dpa/picture alliance

Born just five days before the opening ceremony of the last Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Hashimoto's parents named her after the Olympic flame's lighting, "seika" in Japanese. 

Is Hashimoto scandal-free?

Hashimoto herself has been at the center of rumors in the past.

In 2014, photos of Hashimoto hugging and kissing a male figure skater sparked controversy, as people accused her of abusing her role as the head of the Japanese delegation at the time.

The images were taken at a Winter Olympics party in Russia’s Sochi, where Hashimoto appeared to drunkenly embrace Daisuke Takahashi 

But Takahashi later said that he did not think he had been harassed by Hashimoto, while she apologized for the "misunderstanding."

Will Tokyo 2020 take place in 2021?  

Hashimoto is set to oversee the final preparations of the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for July.  

As Japan postponed the Games from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hashimoto is under pressure to hold the event safely.  

She said that another postponement was "inconceivable", echoing the sentiments of the event’s organizers and the International Olympic Committee. 

The 2020 Olympics have faced several setbacks. Scandals have surrounded officials involved in organizing the event since 2013. 

Multiple governors were forced to resign over allegations of abuse of power or embezzlement. 

In 2016, Tokyo's Olympic organizers had to create a new logo for the event, as they were accused of copying a theater logo in Belgium. 

fb/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)