In the wake of claims of physical and verbal abuse made by national women’s judo team members, a Kyodo News survey on Sunday found that training staff in two additional sports admitting knowing of physical abuse.
In a questionnaire distributed to coaches and development staff of 25 federations other than judo that participated in last summer’s London Olympics, respondents from two additional federations said they had witnessed physical abuse. Of the 55 individuals in 25 federations who were sent questionnaires by e-mail, 34 individuals from 21 different federations responded.
From the two sports in which physical abuse was observed, one respondent answered both “yes” and “no” to a question about employing physical abuse himself.
“When I was the head coach, I did not,” the respondent wrote. “But when I was a new coach, I threw a metal folding chair at someone so as to conceal my own weakness. The athlete dodged it.”
Representatives of 31 Olympic sports federations were summoned by the Japan Olympic Committee for questioning on Thursday and Friday. Asked whether physical abuse, sexual harassment or power harassment had been observed in national team training or overseas tours following the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, each federation’s representative answered “no.”
The Kyodo News survey, however, did not specify a time period and produced different results.
In answer to the question, “Do you believe physical abuse by sports coaches will end?” nine respondents checked “I do not think so.” Of the nine, two respondents also checked “I believe so.”
Many answering the questionnaire furnished comments regarding the number of inexperienced coaches: “There will always be poor coaches” and “There are people who have trouble keeping their emotions in check.”
In answer to a question about whether athletes will tolerate physical abuse if a bond of trust exists, only one respondent indicated it might be possible. That person explained as follows: “Lumping all possible examples of physical abuse together is problematic. Violence must not be tolerated. However, education is important.”
Asked whether the scandal would have an impact on future coaching, 13 answered that it would, with one commenting that “the selection of (national team) athletes and their training would have to be done more carefully.”