Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori on Thursday apologised but refused to resign over his sexist comments that sparked outrage in Japan, AFP reported. Mori triggered further criticism when he said ‘I don’t speak to women much’ in a rushed press conference.

The Olympics chief reportedly said on Wednesday that “board of directors meetings with many women take a lot of time.”

“When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” he was quoted as saying by local newspapers.

At the press conference, Mori told reporters he wanted to “retract” his comments, adding that he knew they were inappropriate.

Also read: Tokyo Olympics 2020 chief makes ‘sexist’ remarks, says meetings with women ‘take time’

“What I said… went against the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics, and I recognise that it was inappropriate,” he said.

“I will reflect deeply on this. I would also like to retract what I said. I would like to apologise to everyone who was offended.”

But he added that he was “not thinking about resigning” and insisted that comments such as the one he made were often heard in society. 

“I hear those things often,” Mori said.

“I don’t speak to women much recently, so I wouldn’t know,” he added.

“You are asking all these questions because you wanted to write funny stories, aren’t you?”

Japan Olympic Committee member Kaori Yamaguchi called Mori’s comments “unfortunate”.

“Gender equality and considerations for people with disabilities were supposed to be prerequisite for holding the Tokyo Games,” the Sports Hochi newspaper quoted her as saying.

On Thursday, a popular Japanese comedian described Mori’s remarks as ‘incomprehensible’, and withdrew his participation from the Olympic torch relay.