Australian Open women’s singles finalist Naomi Osaka says “barriers are being broken down” after the appointment of Seiko Hashimoto as the new president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee.
Hashimoto, who is a seven-time Olympian having competed as a cyclist and a speed skater, replaces Yoshiro Mori following the 83-year-old’s resignation last week.
Mori caused uproar when he said that meetings involving women tended to “drag on” and he stepped down after accepting the remarks had “caused chaos”.
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Hashimoto now has to ensure athletes and officials are kept safe from the coronavirus, while also facing strong public opposition to the Games being held amid the pandemic.
Hashimoto announced her appointment shortly after submitting her resignation as Olympics minister to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who encouraged her to make the Games successful.
Japanese tennis star Osaka, who reached the Australian Open women’s singles final on Thursday, welcomed the news, saying: “I think for me, what it means is that there’s a lot of things I think people used to accept that used to be said, but you’re seeing the newer generation not tolerate a lot of things.
“I feel like it’s really good because you’re pushing forward, barriers are being broken down, especially for females.
“We’ve had to fight for so many things just to be equal. Even a lot of things we still aren’t equal.”
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A 56-year-old lawmaker in Japan’s ruling party, Hashimoto served as the Olympics minister, doubling as minister for women’s empowerment, since 2019 until resigning on Thursday.
She was born days before Japan hosted the 1964 summer Games and her name comes from a Chinese character used for the Olympic flame. She lived up to it by taking part in four Winter Olympics as a speed skater and three Summer Olympics as a cyclist.
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