Japan's Olympics minister retracts remarks about swimming star's leukemia

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-13 22:08:34|Editor: mmm
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TOKYO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Yoshitaka Sakurada, Japan's minister in charge of the Olympics and Paralympics on Wednesday retracted the remarks he made about swimming star Rikako Ikee's leukemia diagnosis and admitted they were insensitive.

Sakurada earlier remarked that he was "disappointment" at Ikee's illness, with his comments being made just hours after the 18-year-old six-time gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games, announced she had been diagnosed with Leukemia.

"She is a potential gold medalist, an athlete of whom we have great expectations. I'm really disappointed," Sakurada said a day earlier, inciting a domestic and global backlash from fans of the young, hugely popular swimming star.

Sakurada retracted his remarks about Ikee, saying he lacked consideration.

"I lacked consideration. I apologize and withdraw the remarks," the minister said.

His retraction and apology came after an onslaught from opposition party politicians who have been calling for his resignation.

In another embarrassing blunder, Sakurada said during a parliamentary session Wednesday that while he has heard of the Olympic Charter, he has never read it.

Sakurada himself told the lower house Budget Committee he has no intention to step down over the ordeal.