Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The new head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee made unwanted sexual advances toward an athlete during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, according to a Japanese press report published after the resignation of former Japanese Olympic chief Yoshiro Mori.
Seiko Hashimoto, 56, said Thursday she "deeply regrets" her behavior toward Japanese male figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, "both then and now." The statement comes after Hashimoto denied wrongdoing at the time, The Guardian reported.
Hashimoto's remarks came after local magazine Shukan Bunshun reported the former Olympic track cyclist and speed skater forced a kiss on Takahashi, now 34, after the closing ceremony at Sochi. The report included photos of the incident, and alleged Hashimoto was drunk at the time.
Takahashi's agent said in 2014 the athlete was not a victim, but Hashimoto, a longtime supporter of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was in a powerful position as president of the Japan Skating Federation.
Masaki Kito, head lawyer of Link Law Office in Tokyo, said Hashimoto is not a suitable successor for Mori because of her record of sexual harassing athletes.
According to Shukan Bunshun, Hashimoto has made undesirable sexual advances toward other individuals. A female lawmaker who spoke anonymously to the magazine claimed Hashimoto "has a habit of kissing people when drunk."
Prior to his resignation, Mori, who had complained about women talking too much at meetings, had sought to appoint 84-year-old Saburo Kawabuchi, a man, to the leadership position, but was met with opposition.
Not all Japanese stakeholders are ambivalent about Hashimoto, however.
Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka said this week she welcomed Hashimoto's appointment.
"I feel like it's really good because you're pushing forward, barriers are being broken down, especially for females," Osaka said. "We've had to fight for so many things just to be equal. Even a lot of things still aren't equal."