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Japan's Olympics boss retracts sexist remarks, then makes more gaffes

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TOKYO: Japan's Olympics chief apologised yesterday for saying women talk too much at meetings, but refused to resign and dug a deeper hole when he admitted he didn't "speak to women much".

Mr Yoshiro Mori's comments are the latest headache for organisers already battling public disquiet about the pandemic-postponed Games.

His earlier remarks sparked a storm of criticism on social media and risked tainting public opinion of the Games.

Mr Mori, 83, apologised at a hastily-called news conference for the comments made during a Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) meeting this week.

"If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying," said Mr Mori then, according to local media.

"We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place."

The JOC decided in 2019 to aim for more than 40 per cent female members on the board, but there are just five women among its 24 members.

Mr Mori yesterday acknowledged that his comments were "inappropriate" and against the Olympic spirit.

"I feel deep remorse and I would like to retract my remarks," he told reporters.

But he still insisted he was responding to comments he had heard about women speaking for too long.

"I hear those things often," Mr Mori said. "I don't speak to women much recently, so I wouldn't know.

"You are asking all these questions because you wanted to write funny stories, aren't you?"

This again sparked a furious reaction yesterday with the phrases "enough already", "misogyny" and "we demand Yoshiro Mori resign" all trending on Twitter.

Mr Mori's remarks were heavily criticised by opposition lawmakers in Parliament, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was booed loudly when he said he was "not aware of the details".

After being read Mr Mori's comments, he said they were something "that should not be allowed".

Mr Mori told a newspaper yesterday his wife had given him a "thorough scolding" over his comments. - AFP, REUTERS