The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee's councilors announced 12 new female members for the committee's executive board Wednesday, including Sydney Olympic marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi and Paralympic Alpine skier Kuniko Obinata.

The 12 new members bring the number of women on the 45-member board to 19, raising female participation to above the 40 percent target set by the committee's new President Seiko Hashimoto, from 20 percent before their addition.

Combined file photo shows Sydney Olympic marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi (L) and two-time Paralympic Alpine skiing champion Kuniko Obinata. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Also joining the committee as directors are Naoko Saiki, an executive board member of the Japan Rugby Football Union and former chief of the Foreign Ministry's Economic Affairs Bureau, Kaori Sasaki, the president of eWoman Inc., a networking site for women in business, Chukyo University sports science professor Kyoko Raita, the head of the Japan Society for Sport and Gender Studies, and Mitsue Haga, the representative of the Noboribetsu Ashiri no Kai, an Ainu cultural organization.

With only two former athletes among the 12 new members, Hashimoto told a press conference that her goal was to tackle problems by learning from varied points of view.

"We selected people in order to get opinions from different angles through diversity, harmony and gender equality," Hashimoto said.

"What should we do to best tackle staging these games amid the coronavirus concerns? I want to organize our response making use of the perspectives from various fields."

In concert with the nominations, the number of seats on the executive board was expanded from 35 to 45.

Hashimoto, a former Olympian herself, took over the committee Feb. 18 after Yoshiro Mori resigned amid a backlash over his sexist remarks during a Japanese Olympic Committee meeting.

Upon taking up her spot as committee president, Hashimoto promised to push for gender equality, with 40 percent female participation on the board in line with official "governance code" guidelines for sporting bodies.

Seiko Hashimoto speaks to the press in Tokyo on March 3, 2021. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

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