The world judo chief urged Japan Monday to clean up its act after the sport was sullied in its birthplace by scandals including abusive coaching, misuse of funds and sexual harassment.
International Judo Federation (IJF) president Marius Vizer told a news conference in Tokyo that Japan’s judo authority needed to shape up because he is aiming to raise the sport’s profile in the Olympics with reforms.
“The IJF follows very carefully the present situation in Japanese judo,” he said. “The IJF with the All-Japan Judo Federation will do our best to clean up the situation and start with new reforms and new development in Japanese judo.”
Japan’s judo community was rocked in February when the coach of the national women’s team, Ryuji Sonoda, was found to have used a bamboo sword to beat athletes, calling his charges “ugly” and telling them to “die” in the run-up to the London Olympics.
Sonoda later resigned.
In April, judo officials were accused of receiving subsidies for coaches from a government fund although they did not serve as coaches.
Then the Japanese federation said last month it was considering expelling Jiro Fukuda, 76, for life following the revelation that he made unwanted sexual advances toward a female athlete in 2011.
Vizer said the IJF had given the Japanese federation until Oct. 15 to submit a full report on the incidents and that the IJF would take appropriate action against any illegal acts.
Vizer, an Austrian businessman who became the IJF president in 2007, was visiting Tokyo after his May election as president of SportAccord, an umbrella organization for all international sports federations.
He said the visit was partly aimed at grasping the “situation” in Japan as his organization wants to convince the International Olympic Committee to allow a team competition to be added to the judo programme for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The 2016 program will be decided at an IOC session in Buenos Aires in early September.
“We have a great chance to go with the teams to the Rio Olympics,” said Vizer, 55, who is credited with promoting judo as a more visible international sport by establishing a full world tour, introducing world rankings and modifying rules.
He said the IJF’s efforts in the last four or five years had helped judo go up in a new revenue-sharing ranking of Olympic sports in five categories by which IOC fund allotments for the Rio Olympics are distributed.
In late May, the IOC executive board promoted judo to the third tier from the fourth tier. The top flight consists of athletics, swimming and gymnastics.
Riner alleges racism
The Buddha Bar has fired a waitress for improper behavior toward Olympic champion judoka Teddy Riner, who lashed out about alleged racism at the upscale Paris bar-restaurant.
On Facebook, the 24-year-old London Games gold medalist described how he had momentarily left his table one evening to get a better look at a Brazilian-themed show, and a waitress asked for his credit card and grabbed his arm “firmly.”
Riner suggested other patrons didn’t receive similar treatment because they were white, writing: “Never go to Buddha-bar if you’re BLACK!!!!”
Buddha Bar spokesman Laurent Guyot denied any racist motive. He said the waitress didn’t recognize Riner and was fired for having grabbed his arm inappropriately.