Olympics / Summer Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Olympic chief Mori faces media scrutiny

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Yoshiro Mori, the new Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee president and former Prime Minister, faced some tough questions from the international media at a news conference on Sunday morning at the Main Media Center for the Sochi Games.

One reporter wanted to know why the 76-year-old Mori spoke in Japanese instead of English while addressing an audience including reporters from foreign countries.

“You know, in my generation very few people understood foreign languages,” Mori said. “I was in the second grade when the war (World War II) ended and English was considered the enemy’s language. And if I should make a huge mistake (by speaking English incorrectly) it could lead to problems.

Added Mori, ” And when you come to Japan, can you speak Japanese?”

Another journalist asked about the seemingly advanced age of the Tokyo 2020 organizing team and the lack of females on the committee.

“There will be more people to be assigned to positions in several sections of our committee,” commented Mori. “Also 25-30 people will be appointed as an executive board member. Therefore I will take a woman’s appointment into full consideration. I would like young people to join us. I would like women to do so as well.”

Mori said he will be seeking to put staff in positions they are appropriate for.

“I would like to assign the right people in the right places,” he stated.

Mori also spoke of his previous meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japan hosting the 1964 Tokyo Games.

“Nineteen years after the end of the World War (II) we were able to organize the games and showed that Japan had become a peaceful nation,” Mori said. “President Putin shares these thoughts, that the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights are values which must be important for Russia. He told me that a few years ago.”