Hiroshi Sasaki was to be in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, but that won’t be the case anymore.
Sasaki is out of the post after one of his proposals, which he had shared on SNS, leaked. There, the Dentsu creative director, proposed having comedian Naomi Watanabe inside a cage and dress as a pig because of her appearance, referring to her as an “Olympig.”
Naomi Watanabe is one of the most successful comedians in Japan, constantly appearing on television and in advertising campaigns. Watanabe has also been an important voice in Japan when it comes to body positivity. She was a leader of the “pochakawaii” (chubby and cute) movement, and in 2014 created a clothing brand that had plus-sized clothing, one of the first in the country.
Sasaki’s proposal had not been considered any further because other members had not supported it. Sasaki also apologized after the news broke out, also stating that he was resigning from his post due to what he described as irresponsible remarks.
This is also the second scandal involving a member of the Tokyo Olympic Committee. In February, former Chairman Mori’s comments about women in meetings made headlines worldwide, bringing shame to the struggling Tokyo Olympics. Mori’s replacement, Chairman Hashimoto, condemned both Mori’s comments and the text messages Sasaki had sent.
With Japan’s slow vaccine rollout, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the scandals involving members of the committee, local support for the Olympics has plummeted. This is a contrast from when it was announced that Tokyo would host the Olympics since locals at the time had been very supportive and excited. Things started to deteriorate after it became very difficult to get tickets for events and when the marathon, one of the events locals can truly enjoy, was moved to Hokkaido due to Tokyo’s dangerously hot summers. All the other things that came during 2020 and 2021 have almost eroded the enthusiasm people had had for the games.