Games are scheduled to start in less than five months.

The Olympics are a the world’s greatest competition of physical prowess, but sticking your foot into the mouth isn’t one of the Games’ events. So earlier this month when former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori insinuated that women are unfit for leadership roles because they talk too much during meetings, he didn’t win a medal, and instead ended up losing his job as the backlash to his remarks prompted him to resign.

Part of the pressure for Mori to step down came from a spike in Olympic volunteer resignations once his comments became public knowledge. Between February 3, when he said “If we increase the number of female directors, we will have to place limits on speaking time, or else the discussions will never end” and February 11, when news of his impending resignation (which took place the next day) was leaked, roughly 740 volunteers who’d pledged their assistance at competition venues and the Olympic village during the 2021 Tokyo Games retracted their offers.

Following Mori’s resignation on February 12, the committee began the process of selecting a new president, with the role ultimately going to Seiko Hashimoto, a politician and former Olympic athlete who competed in both speed skating and sprint cycling, winning a bronze medal for her skating performance in Albertville in 1992. However, even with the 56-year-old taking over the top spot from Mori, volunteers are still quitting, with around 260 people since February 12 saying they’ll no longer be helping out.

On the bright side, roughly 130 people quitting a week is lot fewer than the 740 who said nope in the eight days immediately after Mori’s remarks. A spokesperson for the organizing committee also said a number of volunteers who’d quit in protest have since reapplied for positions, and with somewhere around 80,000 volunteers in total recruited so far, they’re not yet doomed to running skeleton crews. Still, losing 1,000 volunteers in February is a definite problem, especially with less than five months to go until opening day, and shows that the potential health risks and tentative nature of whether or not the Olympics will really take place as scheduled remain concerns for would-be volunteers, regardless of who’s in charge of the Games.

Source: NHK News Web
Top image: Pakutaso
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