Naomi Watanabe shrugs off 'Olympig' remark from Tokyo Olympics ceremony chief

Lim Yian Lu
·2-min read
Naomi Watanabe was scheduled to appear at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony (Photo: Instagram/watanabenaomi703)
Naomi Watanabe was scheduled to appear at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony. (Photo: Instagram/watanabenaomi703)

Whether or not the Tokyo Olympics can be successfully held is still debatable. But the scandals surrounding the sporting event just do not seem to end. After President Yoshiro Mori’s resignation for his sexist remarks saying women talk too much, news surfaced about the chief creative director for the Olympics and Paralympics ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, making a terrible suggestion involving plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe.

According to weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, Sasaki had suggested on 5 March last year, that Watanabe could dress up as a pig during the opening ceremony. However, the proposal was quickly shot down by the members of the planning team, with one woman saying it “did not feel right to compare appearances like this”, and a male member opposing the idea that was “too awful to consider”.

Sasaki has since submitted his resignation, after the sexist remark came to light a year later on 17 March 2021. He admitted to and confessed his regret at making the inappropriate suggestion, reflecting that he tended to “make a lot of bad puns” and thought Watanabe would “look charming as an ‘Olympig’.”

In a statement released through her agency, Watanabe seems totally cool with it, saying “In reality, I am very happy with my figure. Therefore, I want to continue to express myself not only as someone who is large but as ‘Naomi Watanabe’.”

Watanabe added, “However, as one human being, I truly hope from the bottom of my heart that the world can become a joyous place where each person’s individuality and ideas are respected and accepted by all.”

Not many can so calmly call out body shaming like her, and her self-love is truly an inspiration for everyone. In fact, Watanabe is also not afraid to show her curves (and her dance moves!), as seen in her parody music video of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s Rain On Me.