TOKYO (AP) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, aged 76, was officially appointed head of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic organizing committee on Friday.
Mori initially rejected the request, citing his age, but agreed to accept the post after no other suitable candidates from the Japan business community came forward.
Instead of downplaying his age and history of verbal gaffes, Mori raised eyebrows by admitting he may not even be alive in 2020. "If all goes well, I'm destined to live maybe five or six more years," Mori was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency after agreeing to accept the post.
Mori also is president of the Japan Rugby Football Union, which is organizing the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Because of his age, many in Japan have come to question his ability to fill a very demanding role.
The most recent Olympics in London were headed by 57-year-old Seb Coe, the former two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion who drew praise for his intense workload.
At a news conference on Friday, Mori said, "I am honored to have been selected. And I am fully committed to ensuring that we will deliver fantastic games that will showcase the power of sport and further enhance Olympic values."
Mori served as prime minister for one year from April 2000. He was criticized for continuing a round of golf after receiving news that the submarine USS Greeneville accidentally hit and sunk a Japanese fishing vessel in February 2001. The incident resulted in the death of nine students and teachers.