TOKYO - Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki said he had resigned after making a derogatory comment about a popular female Japanese entertainer, in the latest controversy over insensitive remarks toward women to hit games organizers.
Sasaki, who was the head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year's games, said he had told a planning group through a group chat that Naomi Watanabe could play a role as an "Olympig."
"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," Sasaki said in a statement issued through games organizers early Thursday. "I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."
Sasaki said he had told Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto late Wednesday evening that he was stepping down.
Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto plan to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday, organizers said.
Sasaki's resignation came swiftly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday.
Last month, Yoshiro Mori stepped down from his role as president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee after causing a furor with sexist remarks when he said women talk too much.
Mori, 83, a former prime minister, was replaced by athlete-turned-politician Hashimoto, who has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the games.
Sasaki was named head of the creative team in December as Olympic organizers looked to revamp plans for simplified ceremonies after the Tokyo Games were pushed back a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics are scheduled for July 23-August 8; the Paralympics are set for August 24-September 5.