March 18 (UPI) -- A top creative leader for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games resigned Thursday after acknowledging that he made a derogatory remark about a well-known female Japanese entertainer -- in another scandal that has angered women's rights advocates.
Hiroshi Sasaki, head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, left his post after telling a group of planning members via social media app that entertainer Naomi Watanabe could appear in the opening ceremony in July as the "Olympig."
Watanabe, 33, is a popular Japanese comedian, actress and fashion designer.
Sasaki's comments brought swift backlash from public officials and some on the Olympic committee itself.
"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," Sasaki, 66, said. "I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."
His resignation is the second time in recent weeks that disparaging comments about women have led to the resignation of a top Tokyo Olympic official. Organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori quit last month after a remark in which he said business meetings with women tended to drag on because they talk too much.
Watanabe said she was caught off guard by Sasaki's comments.
"In fact, I am happy with my figure," Watanabe said in a report by Kyodo. "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."
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games, which were postponed last year due to COVID-19, are scheduled to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.