Tokyo 2020 organizers have agreed to allow women to participate in an upcoming stage of the Olympic Torch Relay after being criticized for only allowing men to board a traditional boat as part of the celebrations in Handa.
The Olympic flame is expected to arrive in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture on Tuesday, April 6, where it was initially decided that only men would be allowed to board the decorated boat after organizers accepted a request from the Handa municipal government.
Women are traditionally prohibited from boarding the ‘Chintoro’ boat, which is part of a local Edo-era festival that took place from 1603 to 1868 and is expected to be used to transport Olympic torchbearers. .
The 200-meter section of the route through the city’s Handa Canal was to be restricted to men, but the decision was criticized.
In the aftermath, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay task force in Aichi Prefecture overturned its decision.
“While it is important to protect traditional culture, it is not in line with the Olympics,” a member of the task force said in a report from Mainichi Shimbun.
“We’ve revised it to take a form the audience can appreciate.”
It was agreed that the Olympic Torch Relay would be treated as an “event” and would be separate from the festival.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said, “I understand that (the city) has taken into account the importance of gender equality, the goal of the Games while preserving the wonderful traditional culture of Japan.”
Hashimoto replaced Yoshir Mori as head of the organizing committee in January after he stepped down following derogatory comments he made about women.
Mori sparked controversy after claiming that board meetings involving women are often outdated because they talk too much.
In March, Hiroshi Sasaki then stepped down as executive creative director of the Tokyo 2020 ceremonies after offering comedian and plus-size fashion icon Naomi Watanabe to dress up as a pig for part of the opening ceremony. of the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Torch began its 121-day journey through Japan on March 25 and was scheduled to pass through Osaka Prefecture on April 13 and 14.
The step is expected to be canceled after the Japanese government agreed to impose new COVID-19 restrictions on Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi from April 5 to May 5.
But an official decision has yet to be made by organizers who are expected to hold a meeting early next week before making the appeal.
“We will have extensive discussions with local officials on how the relay should be organized so that we can make an announcement quickly,” Hashimoto said in a report from Kyodo News.
Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura has called for the event to be suppressed in the city amid concerns over increasing coronavirus cases.
“I personally think the torch relay in Osaka city should be canceled,” Yoshimura said in a report from Reuters.
“We would like to start discussions with the city of Osaka and Tokyo 2020.”
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