The panel charged with finding a new Tokyo Olympics chief after a sexism row will begin talks Tuesday, local media said, as campaigners urged more transparency in the selection process.
The panel is convening for the first time to choose a successor to 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who resigned on Friday after his claims that women talk too much in meetings sparked widespread outrage.
It is expected to be made up of eight members, with a 50-50 gender split.
But campaigners called for the process to be made more transparent, with Games organisers declining to identify the panel’s members to protect them from media attention.
The postponed 2020 Games are set to begin in July, with officials and organisers insisting they will go ahead despite doubts over the event’s viability given the ongoing pandemic.
The formation of the new panel, headed by 85-year-old Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, was announced Friday after Mori’s reported attempts to hand-pick 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi as his successor were met with opposition.
“Now they say they won’t reveal who the members are of the committee to choose the next chief,” Kazuko Fukuda, a campaigner for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, told AFP.
“So it’s really like the whole process will take place in secret again.”
Equality campaigners handed a petition with over 150,000 signatures to Tokyo 2020 organisers on Tuesday morning, urging them to put concrete measures in place to prevent further discrimination.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on the petition or the selection of the Games’ new president “at this stage”.
Reports said the new Games president could be named before the end of the week, with Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, Japanese Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita and former hammer-thrower Koji Murofushi among those in contention.
Hashimoto – one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet – was reported as saying Tuesday that she had not been approached about taking over.
“It should be done with transparency,” she said. “I hope we can get the new structure in place quickly.”
The selection panel was expected to focus on the criteria for choosing the next president in its first meeting, before drawing up a list of nominees in its second meeting.
The final choice must be endorsed by Tokyo 2020’s executive board.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said last week that the panel will have Olympic or Paralympic expertise and an understanding of diversity and gender equality.
Local media reports said Muto declined to say where and when the panel would meet.