Hopes are high that a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games will brush off the controversies they have been tainted by, including a sexism row that has damaged the reputation of the games and undermined Japan’s efforts to narrow the gender gap.

With Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympic speedskater and cyclist, now at the helm of the Tokyo Organising Committee and its board having been revamped with a higher share of female members, the event could serve as a chance for Japan to showcase that, at least in sports, it is serious about equality.

“For true gender equality, I think women must be able to lead a lifestyle of their choice, not only as athletes but once they finish their careers as well,” Hashimoto told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following her appointment as president of the committee.