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Japan Wrestling Federation official quits after panel determines he harassed four-time Olympic champion Kaori Icho

Kyodo

A Japan Wrestling Federation director quit Friday after a third-party panel of lawyers determined that he harassed four-time Olympic wrestling champion Kaori Icho after she won her second gold medal in Beijing in 2008.

In its report, the panel acknowledged four complaints of harassment lodged against Kazuhito Sakae, who had been a key figure in female wrestling circles. Tomiaki Fukuda, chairman of the federation, apologized over the harassment.

The cases include one concerning a remark Sakae made to Icho when she joined a training session of wrestlers representing Japan. According to the report, Sakae told Icho, “How dare you wrestle in front of me.”

The report also noted problems related to the selection of athletes for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in which Icho did not participate.

According to one of the complaints, submitted to a Cabinet Office committee in January by a person close to the matter, Sakae began harassing Icho after she moved her training base to Tokyo from Aichi Prefecture against Sakae’s wishes, after winning consecutive Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008.

Sakae ordered Icho’s coach, Chikara Tanabe, to stop working with her when she went to Russia for the 2010 world championships. When he refused, Sakae told him to quit if he could not follow orders, the complaint said.

The development director also allegedly harassed Icho by preventing her from using a Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department training facility shortly before the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she became the first female athlete to win four consecutive Olympic titles in an individual event.

Sports minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told a news conference Friday, “If the harassment complaints are true, I believe the federation will swiftly take appropriate measures.” He said he had not read the panel’s report.

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