JOC suspends JBA due to persistent infighting

Kyodo News

The Japanese Olympic Committee on Tuesday suspended the Japan Basketball Association (JBA) indefinitely for persistent infighting that has severely hampered its operations.

The JOC Council took the unprecedented step of suspending a national sports federation operating under its wing but gave the nod to sending the women’s national team to the Beijing Olympics if it qualifies through a tournament scheduled for June.

The JOC had earlier moved to deprive the basketball association of its membership, which would have resulted in a no-show of Japan’s basketball team at the Olympics regardless of the qualifying results.

However, the JOC apparently changed its stand after many of its Council and Executive Board members argued that punitive measures against the JBA be treated separately from the national team’s Olympic bid.

The internal row in the JBA first surfaced when its top leaders came under fire for incurring a heavy loss (a reported ¥1.3 billion) from the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.

The strife has continued with meetings to discuss personnel, budget and other important issues being called off since the spring of last year.

On March 2, the JBA approved a plan for its new leadership lineup by picking former Foreign Minister Taro Aso as a candidate to assume its top post. But the move irked the JOC, which felt it breached an agreement between the two bodies to discuss a leadership change in advance.

JOC officials indicated Tuesday that the Olympic body will likely consider reviewing its punishment only after the JBA restarts the selection process for its top officials from scratch.

“We realize we won’t overturn the JOC decision and we don’t want to fight the JOC over this issue. I think it’s my mission to establish a new leadership team,” said Takeshi Ishikawa, the acting president of the JBA.

While serving the suspension, the association is not allowed to receive subsidies and its share of revenues from the JOC’s marketing activities. It is also prohibited from attending top-level JOC meetings.