23 Jul - 8 Aug
Tokyo 2020 | Olympic Games
Albertville 1992 bronze medallist steps down as Japan's Olympic Minister to succeed Mori Yoshiro with five months to go to Games.
Seven-time Olympian Hashimoto Seiko said she was "honoured" to have been named the new President of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee.
The Albertville 1992 Winter Olympic bronze medallist in speed skating, who also competed in cycling at the Summer Games, was officially appointed following meetings of the Tokyo 2020 executive board and council on Thursday (18 February).
Hashimoto takes over the role five months before the Olympic Opening Ceremony on 23rd July 2021.
To take the position, Hashimoto has stepped down from her government roles as Japan's Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Minister in charge of Women's Empowerment, and Minister of State for Gender Equality in the Government of Japan.
In addressing the Tokyo 2020 executive board following her appointment, Hashimoto vowed to see the Games through with safety and dignity.
"I have been chosen to take on a huge responsibility," she said.
"I handed in my resignation to Prime Minister Suga (Yoshihide) to resign from my post as minister, which was not an easy decision for me to make,"
"But now that I have, I stand before you ready to devote myself entirely to the successful organisation of the Games.
"The Games are only five months away now and must be held safely and securely. Covid countermeasures will take priority."
Hashimoto said her successor as Games minister will also be a woman, with Suga selecting Marukawa Tamayo, who previously held the post for a year until August 2017.
Hashimoto said she spoke to IOC President Thomas Bach by phone following her appointment.
"With her great Olympic experience, having won a medal, participated in seven editions of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Winter Games, and having led Japan’s delegation to the Olympic Games multiple times, she is the perfect choice for this position," Bach said through a statement.
"With the appointment of a woman as President, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee is also sending a very important signal with regard to gender equality."
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons also welcomed her appointment, saying, "As the former Minister of State for Gender Equality and Minister in Charge of Women’s Empowerment, I look forward to her to using the Games as a platform to advance the diversity and inclusion agenda, not just in terms of gender, but sexuality, race and, importantly, persons with disabilities."
Hashimoto also said she was keen to help break the gender barrier in Japan, during her first press conference as Tokyo 2020 chief.
"I believe gender equality is a reason for my appointment. By the end of the month, I will launch a dedicated team so we can get things done with speed, which I think is critical."
An eight-person selection panel, chaired by Tokyo 2020 Honorary President Mitarai Fujio, held three days of deliberation before recommending Hashimoto to the executive board.
When approached by the panel on Wednesday about succeeding Mori - who she will meet next week as part of the transition - Hashimoto said she felt obligated to accept.
Japanese Olympic Committee President Yamashita Yasuhiro said the entire organising committee will have Hashimoto's back.
"The most qualified individual has been chosen for the position," said Yamashita, who was part of the selection panel.
"She had to make a difficult decision which took tremendous courage and conviction. Personally, I have nothing but gratitude for her."
"The executive board is unanimous in supporting whatever decision President Hashimoto makes going forward." - Japanese Olympic Committee President Yamashita Yasuhiro
Hashimoto was born in Hokkaido just five days before the opening of the last Games in Tokyo, in 1964.
Her father, so moved by the Opening Ceremony, named her after the Olympic Flame which contains the same Chinese character in Seiko.
Plying two trades as a skater and cyclist, Hashimoto competed in four Winter Olympic Games, three Summer - a record for a Japanese female athlete.
She went into politics in 1995 and competed at Atlanta 1996 as a member of the Diet, retiring from sporting competition after the Games.
23 Jul - 8 Aug
Tokyo 2020 | Olympic Games