Disgraced former Olympic Organizing Committee chair wanted a 'pure Japanese man' to light the Olympic flame, not Naomi Osaka, who is half-Japanese, a new report says

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Disgraced former Olympic Organizing Committee chair wanted a 'pure Japanese man' to light the Olympic flame, not Naomi Osaka, who is half-Japanese, a new report says
REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
  • An ex-Olympic official didn't want Naomi Osaka to carry the Olympic Torch, The Daily Beast reported.
  • Instead, Yoshiro Mori wanted a "pure Japanese man," like former NY Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui.
  • Osaka, who is half-Black and half-Japanese, formally opened the Tokyo Games in July.

A disgraced former chair of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee said he wanted a "pure" Japanese person to light the Olympic flame, not tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is biracial, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday.

The former Tokyo Organizing Committee chair Yoshiro Mori pushed to have Hideki Matsui, a Japanese baseball outfielder who played for the New York Yankees and the Yomiuri Giants, committee staffers told The Beast.

According to the employee, Mori said, "[Matsui] is a pure Japanese man and a baseball champion in the US and Japan - the embodiment of fighting spirit."

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Mori also found it amusing that Matsui's nickname was "Godzilla," given the task of lighting the Olympic cauldron, the employee said.

"Funny in the sense that Godzilla breathes flames, and Matsui would be lighting the cauldron," the staffer told The Beast.

According to an employee for Dentsu, a PR firm that partnered with the Tokyo Games, Mori was not open to any other suggestions about who should carry the Olympic flame.

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"Mori wanted Matsui. If he wanted something changed or something done, then it was done," the Dentsu employee told The Beast. "Mori was practically the voice of God."

Osaka, who is Black and Japanese, was formally approached to carry the Olympic torch to formally open the Tokyo Games in March, after Mori resigned from the committee a month before.

Mori stepped down from the organizing committee earlier this year after receiving criticism for sexist remarks during meetings.

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Mori responded to a question about the Japan Olympic Committee's goal of making the committee at least 40% women by implying that women talk too much, according to an AFP translation of a story by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

"When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn't restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying," Mori reportedly said on the call.

"Women are competitive. When one person raises a hand, others think they need to speak up as well," Mori reportedly added. "That's why everyone speaks."

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Representatives for the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee did not immediately return Insider's request for comment. A representative for Osaka did not respond to Insider's email for comment.

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