New TOCOG president Hashimoto Seiko wants to "spark" movement for more gender equality

Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announces new gender equality team led by two-time artistic swimming medallist Kotani Mikako.

By ZK Goh ·

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) is to launch a new team to promote gender equality effective Thursday (25 February).

New TOCOG president Hashimoto Seiko, who took over from former chief Mori Yoshiro last week, told Japanese media on Wednesday that the new group will be led by TOCOG sports director Kotani Mikako, two-time Olympic medallist in artistic swimming.

"We want to spark a movement among all stakeholders," Hashimoto said of her intention to improve the gender balance.

"We as the Organising Committee can do more on gender equality."

Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto spoke to media in Tokyo after a video conference with the IOC executive board on 24 February.

Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian in speed skating and track cycling, was previously Japan's Minister-in-Charge of Women's Empowerment and the country's Minister of State for Gender Equality. She was also Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Referring to Japan's position of 121st out of 153 territories on the World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings, she said more could be done, adding the ranking was "saddening".

"All of us can educate ourselves better. As the Sports Director (Kotani) said, we have done a lot of work on diversity and inclusion for these Games but we have not been able to convey that to the public as well as we would like."

She also added that she intends for at least 40 per cent of TOCOG to be women.

"The theme is meaningful to a lot of people and hopefully we can - and we will - send that message as it deserves," Hashimoto said.