Hiroshi Sasaki is resigning as creative director of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics after suggesting that comedian and fashion icon Naomi Watanabe should appear as a pig during the opening ceremony.
Sasaki’s derogatory suggestion was apparently that the famed comedian and fashion model should appear as the “Olympig,” a wordplay on the word “Olympic.”
“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” said the 66-year-old Sasaki (via Mainichi). “I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents.”
“I tend to joke often, so I said it just as something that slipped out of my mouth ... (the idea of Watanabe) wearing a cute pink costume and sticking her tongue out as an ‘Olympig.’ I thought that would make her look charming, but I was immediately reprimanded by male staff. I feel remorse.”
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike called Sasaki’s comments “very embarrassing” and wondered why such a negative message was being sent out.
Previously, Sasaki directed the Japanese ceremony at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared as Mario. He’s one of Japan’s most famous advertising execs, creating campaigns like the Tommy Lee Jones Boss Coffee ads.
Watanabe debuted as a comedian, but has since become a popular model and fashion designer. Last year she became the global ambassador for Kate Spade, and has designed her own line of bags. Earlier this year, she announced that she would be based out of the US, where she has been spending time since the mid-2010s, working while studying English.
Watanabe issued a statement regarding Sasaki’s remarks, saying, “In fact, I am happy with my figure. So, as usual, I would like to express myself as ‘Naomi Watanabe’ without being particular about being fat. However, as a human being, I sincerely hope that we can have a fun and prosperous world where we can respect and recognize each person’s individuality and way of thinking.”
This is just the latest scandal for the upcoming games. Last month, Tokyo Olympics head Yoshiro Mori resigned after making sexist remarks.