Tokyo Olympics‘ creative director Hiroshi Sasaki has resigned after suggesting that a popular female Japanese comedian and plus-size fashion designer, Naomi Watanabe, could dress up as an “Olympig,” wearing pig ears at the opening ceremony.
Sasaki’s resignation on Thursday Mar. 18 came shortly after a Japanese magazine, Shukan Bunshun, revealed that he had made the suggestions regarding Watanabe to a planning group on the messaging app Line.
His colleagues rejected his proposal and called it inappropriate, according to BBC.
This comes just a month after Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing Committee and a former Japanese prime minster, stepped down from the role after saying women talk too much in meetings.
33-year-old Watanabe, who is often referred to as “Japanese Beyoncé,” said in a statement that she was “honestly surprised” when she learned about Sasaki’s plans, the Guardian reported.
“I work with the understanding that my appearance is ridiculed,” she said, according to the New York Times. “In fact, I am happy with my figure. So, as usual, I would like to express myself as ‘Naomi Watanabe’ without overly emphasizing being fat.”
She added that she wished for the world to be a place “where we can respect and recognize each person’s individuality and way of thinking.”
The current Tokyo Olympics president Seiko Hashimoto said she was “shocked” when she read about his Sasaki’s comments, calling them “inappropriate and very regrettable,” at a last minute news conference on Thursday.
Since Hashimoto took over the role, she has pledged to make gender equality a focus at the Games. “There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” Sasaki said in a statement released by the Games organizers on Thursday.
“I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such content.” Over the years, Watanabe has lead a body positivity movement called “pochakawaii,” which means “chubby and cute.” In 2014, she founded the plus-size brand, Punyus, one of the first brands in Japan to offer plus-size clothing.