If there is one thing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics doesn’t need right now, it’s the resignation of another key figure due to painfully inappropriate comments. But that’s what it’s got.
Hiroshi Sasaki, head creative director for the Tokyo Games opening and closing ceremonies, thought he had a great idea, so he just threw it out there to his group on the Line messaging service: How about getting plus-size celebrity Naomi Watanabe to descend into the National Stadium dressed as a pig during the — wait for it — Olym-pig opening ceremony?
Get the joke? Some of his colleagues did — and they didn’t appreciate the porcine pun. Somehow, the texts leaked to the media. Just hours after the Shukan Bunshun magazine broke the story online, Sakaki said he would resign, thereby sparing Tokyo 2020 another drawn-out scandal like the Mori affair.
On the sports side of things, the cancellation of qualifiers in various disciplines due to COVID-19 restrictions is once again disrupting the run-up to the games, which are just four months away. With a deadline of June 29 to wrap up qualification, 25% of athlete quota places are yet to be filled, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, brand-new coronavirus variants seem to be cropping up almost by the day, prompting new Olympic organizing committee chief Seiko Hashimoto and her team to look into enforcing more-frequent testing of athletes than the current once-every-four-days playbook plan.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reiterated Friday that vaccination for the virus will not be required for athletes competing in Tokyo, amid concerns about the slow pace of the vaccine rollout in Japan and elsewhere. Nevertheless, U.S. Olympic chiefs said last week they expect their athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “well before” the games.