No abuse within organizations, 31 Olympic sports federations claim

Kyodo

The Japanese Olympic Committee announced Friday that the representatives of all 31 Olympic sports federations it questioned over two days said no abuse exists within their organizations at the national level.

The questioning was the first step in an investigation by the JOC into physical and verbal abuse in Japanese sports. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from 15 women judo athletes that alleged physical and verbal abuse with the Japan national team.

The complaint has led to the resignations of the women’s coach, an assistant coach and the All Japan Judo Federation’s head of development.

The JOC quizzed representatives of each federation about whether there had been any physical abuse, sexual harassment or power harassment with the national team either in Japan or while abroad. Federations competing in the Summer Olympics were asked specifically about the period between the 2008 Beijing Games and last summer’s London Games, while the winter sports federations were asked about the period since the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“Clarification of the real situation will come after this,” said JOC senior director Noriyuki Ichihara. “I didn’t expect anything to really come out from yesterday’s or today’s questioning.”

The JOC will continue its investigation into abuse by distributing a questionnaire to athletes and coaches of its 57 affiliated federations.

“We are going to act so that words like ‘corporal punishment’ will fall out of usage,” Ichihara said. “In order to eradicate abuse in the world of sports, we will need to tackle this with all our might.”

On Friday, the judo federation’s website posted an apology from chairman Haruki Uemura, who is currently in Paris meeting with executives from the International Judo Federation.

“Our handling of this was naive, awkward and inappropriate,” read one part of the statement titled “An Apology.” “We are now reflecting deeply.”

The statement went onto say that the federation decided in an extraordinary session of its board of directors Tuesday to bring in influential outside parties to form a third-party investigation panel.

“We will tackle this with our combined strength to create an open All Japan Judo Federation that is in step with the next era,” the statement also said.