Tokyo 2020 organisers met Thursday as reports said they will name Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto their new president after previous chief Yoshiro Mori resigned over a sexism row.
Japanese media widely reported that Hashimoto, one of just two women in the cabinet, will accept the top job with just over five months until the virus-postponed Olympics.
A committee with a 50-50 gender split was formed to find a successor to 83-year-old Mori after he stepped down last Friday following an uproar over his claims that women speak too much in meetings.
Tokyo 2020’s executive board gathered Thursday to hear the results of the committee’s deliberations with 2020 vice president Toshiaki Endo saying a quick decision was needed.
Mori’s departure was “enormously damaging from the viewpoint of preparation five months before the Games,” Endo said.
“We need to make a decision on the new president as soon as possible, though it is necessary that it goes through appropriate procedures, given the issue has attracted attention at home and abroad,” he added.
Hashimoto, 56, is a seven-time Olympian who appeared at both winter and summer Games and also currently serves as minister for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
She has declined to comment on reports she will be tapped for the key job.
Her nomination comes after Mori’s attempt to handpick his successor — he proposed an 84-year-old ex-footballer — was nixed following public criticism.
Hashimoto had reportedly been reluctant to take on the job, but by Thursday morning local media said she was now willing.
She will face an uphill struggle to win over the public, with polls showing around 80 percent of Japanese backing either further postponement or a cancellation.
“There are only five months to go, and putting on a safe and secure Games is going to be of utmost importance, with the understanding of the people of Japan,” Endo said.