Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, speaks during the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board meeting in Tokyo on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki / POOL / AFP)

A Japanese female cyclist who once competed in the country is now the new president of Tokyo Olympics. 

Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto on Thursday was selected as the new Tokyo 2020 president on Thursday with just over five months left before the staging of the world’s biggest sporting spectacle. 

Apart from being a cyclist, Hashimoto also competed in speed skating.

A seven-time Olympian, Hashimoto was one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet before stepping down to take the key post.

In this file photo taken on July 16, 1996, Japanese Olympic women’s cyclist Seiko Hashimoto, former national ice skating champion, leaves the Stone Mountain Olympic track in Georgia. (Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

Hashimoto, 56, will replace 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who resigned after claiming that women speak too much in meetings, sparking outcry in Japan and abroad.

”I will spare no effort for the success of the Tokyo Games,” Hashimoto said after being formally appointed, calling virus countermeasures ”the top priority.”

During the 1995 Asian Cycling Championships, Hashimoto took silver in the sprint event held at the Amoranto Velodrome in Quezon City.

Like Mori, Hashimoto was also involved in controversy in the past after photos showed her hugging and kissing a male figure skater over 20 years her junior.

The skater, however, said he did not think he had been harassed by the married Hashimoto, who apologized for any ”misunderstanding” caused by the 2014 photos.

She pledged to work to ”ensure that the public both domestically and abroad feel this is going to be a safe and secure Olympic Games.”

Hashimoto submitted her resignation earlier Thursday to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who she said had offered ”kind words”, and asked her to ”give all my strength to create a Tokyo Games that will be embraced by the Japanese people.”

A committee with a 50-50 gender split was formed to find a successor to Mori last week, with Hashimoto immediately among the leading candidates.

Tokyo 2020’s executive board met earlier Thursday to hear the results of the committee’s deliberations with 2020 vice-president Toshiaki Endo saying a quick decision was needed.

Hashimoto’s nomination comes after Mori’s attempt to handpick his successor — he proposed an 84-year-old ex-footballer — was nixed following public criticism.
Kojima said the process that resulted in Hashimoto’s selection had been transparent and ”worthy of praise”. (AFP, Rey C. Lachica)

Source: Manila Bulletin (