JOC to appeal IOC’s Murofushi ruling

Kyodo

The Japanese Olympic Committee announced Monday it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the International Olympic Committee’s decision to void hammer thrower Koji Murofushi’s election to the IOC Athletes’ Commission.

The JOC believes there has been a misinterpretation of the rules, and although it plans to challenge the IOC’s decision it has also suggested its willingness to compromise. It is the first time the JOC has decided to bring a case before the CAS.

“We cannot swallow this decision whole,” said Yoshiji Nogami, who heads the JOC’s election project committee.

“There has been a misinterpretation between the parties. There was not enough time to verify the facts. We want the rules to be clarified. We do not believe this will influence our bid to host the Olympics (in 2020).”

The JOC will submit documents to the court’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday night local time, the deadline for filing an appeal. Decisions handed down by the arbitration court normally take from six months up to one year.

Murofushi, who won a bronze medal at the London Olympics, was among the top four vote-getters out of 21 candidates during the election held at the Athletes’ Village during the Olympics, and received the most of any athletics competitor.

But the IOC voided his election at the games, claiming he had violated election rules by distributing campaign goods and posting fliers with his name, and that he campaigned outside the designated areas.

“I have done my utmost as an athlete who shows the spirit of fair play. My respect toward the IOC has not changed, but I must stress that I did not break the rules. I believe that. For myself, confirming this is extremely important,” Murofushi said in a JOC statement.

The JOC had asked for an explanation from the IOC, claiming that there had been a misinterpretation of election rules, but the two sides were unable to come to terms before Monday’s deadline.

A major focal point of the conflict could come down to how the JOC will explain the fact that it had been cautioned by the IOC during the London Games over a handbook that urged its athletes to vote for Murofushi. Nogami, however, has stopped short of promising to take the IOC head on.

“We don’t intend to make this a head-on clash. There is a possibility of compromise or that we could drop the appeal,” he said.

JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda said the appeal is being made as a last resort after considering all other possible avenues.

“We examined this matter from several different angles, and concluded that we should file an appeal,” Takeda said. “It wasn’t possible to have a satisfactory confirmation of the difference in interpretation with the IOC in a short period of time. Through the appeal, we hope to clear up the facts in how our opinions differ.”