The director for the postponed Tokyo Olympics ceremonies plans to resign after suggesting a female entertainer dress as a pig for the opening ceremony, Japanese media reported Thursday, in the latest setback for the troubled Games.
Hiroshi Sasaki, an advertising executive, proposed 33-year-old entertainer Naomi Watanabe come down from the sky dressed in a swine costume for the opening ceremony in a segment dubbed "Olympig", Kyodo news agency reported, citing a weekly magazine.
Kyodo said he had released a statement through the organising committee admitting to the proposal and apologising to Watanabe.
"There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks," the 66-year-old said, according to Kyodo. "I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents."
The report said he had offered his resignation to Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto -- who took over in February after her predecessor Yoshiro Mori resigned after his claims that women talk too much in meetings sparked an international outcry.
Sasaki, who helped produce the ceremony handing over the Games from Rio to Tokyo -- famously featuring then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a character from the Super Mario video game -- was named the new creative director of the delayed 2020 ceremonies last year.
Organisers at the time said the decision to replace a previous seven-person creative team would improve efficiency and reshape the traditionally lavish and spectacular ceremonies to be "in tune with the situation."
The Games, delayed from 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, are due to open July 23.
Reports last week suggested the Japanese government is set to ban fans from abroad over fears of a rise in infections. Spectators have already been barred from the start of the torch relay.
Sasaki told reporters when he was named last year that traditionally lavish opening and closing ceremonies were considered "too much" in the time of Covid-19, and said he would emphasise a theme of the Games serving as the "light at the end of the tunnel" after the pandemic.