TOKYO: Japan’s Olympic chief vowed Friday to stamp out the physical abuse of athletes by coaches after claims female judokas were beaten with bamboo swords threatened to cast a cloud over Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Games.
Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) president Tsunekazu Takeda, who is also the Tokyo bid chief, said in an interview he had ordered swift action to avoid any contamination of the bid.
“We are seeking prompt internal reform,” said Takeda.
“The JOC takes it upon itself to eliminate violence from sport as advocated by the Olympic Charter,” he added. “We will be trying to restore public trust in sport and work to prevent the (Olympic) bid from being affected.” Takeda’s comments come after Ryuji Sonoda resigned as head of Japan’s women’s judo team after 15 of his athletes, including some who competed in last year’s London Olympics, accused him of repeated physical and emotional abuse.
The furor that erupted sparked fears that Tokyo’s 2020 bid could be snared at a time organizers were readying for a visit by International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspectors evaluating bids by Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid.
The JOC set up a task force to investigate the allegations and work out counter-measures against corporal punishment, a practice widely seen as a way of life for many sports over decades.
Asked if the judo scandal could give IOC members a negative image of sport in Japan and curb public support for Tokyo’s bid, Takeda was bullish.