Hiroshi Sasaki, the Games’ creative director, resigned after Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that he suggested female Japanese celebrity, Naomi Watanabe, dress as a pig during the games’ opening ceremony, according to a Tokyo Olympics press release.

Shukan Bunshun reported that Sasaki said Watanabe should appear in the ceremony as an “olympig.”

New Tokyo Olympics President, Seiko Hashimoto, said in a press release that she was “shocked” by the “inappropriate and very regrettable” comments from Sasaki.

“When I became President of Tokyo 2020, I made gender equality one of our key initiatives for restoring everyone’s trust,” Hashimoto said. “To date, I have been striving to carry out this initiative with a sense of urgency. This kind of problem should never happen.”

Hashimoto said olympic staffers condemned Sasaki’s comments and Sasaki himself acknowledged that they were inappropriate and apologized. He then submitted his resignation.

“For Ms. Naomi Watanabe, my idea and comments are a big insult. And it is unforgivable,” Sasaki wrote in his resignation. “I offer my deepest regrets and apologize from the depth of my heart to her, and those who may have been offended by this. It is truly regrettable, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Hashimoto said she tried to convince Sasaki to stay, but ultimately accepted his resignation and thanked him for his work on the games.

“I did feel that way but he explained, and his intention was very strong,” Hashimoto said. “That is how I felt. For those reasons I decided to accept his resignation.”

Watanabe, a famous female fashion icon, responded to Sasaki’s comments, saying she was “honestly surprised over the (media) reports (about the idea for the ceremony), which are different from what I had first heard about it.”

“It is true that I am told I have a large body, and I accept jobs with the understanding that I may be ridiculed for how I look,” she said. “But I am actually happy with this body shape, so I want to continue expressing myself as ‘Naomi Watanabe’ without focusing only on being fat.”

Last month, Hashimoto took over as president of the games after the former chief, Yoshiro Mori, stepped down after making sexist comments. The Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled for July-August 2020, but were postponed a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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