The Japanese Olympic Committee – responded negatively Thursday to sending taekwondo fighter Yoriko Okamoto to the Athens Olympics after rival domestic bodies administering the sport failed to form an umbrella organization by the deadline.
Last month, the JOC said it will allow the participation of no athletes in taekwondo at this summer’s Olympics unless the internal feud in the Japan Taekwondo Federation (JTF) is solved by the end of March.
The JOC said it will continue trying to find a way to send Okamoto, who won a surprise bronze medal in the women’s 67-kg class in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, to Athens but added it that it was unlikely.
“The problem couldn’t be solved in time so I wasn’t expecting a good answer. But I’ve earned myself an Olympic berth and hope they take that into consideration. I have faith that I’ll be able to go in the end,” the 32-year-old Okamoto said.
The former karate fighter secured Japan’s first Athens Olympic berth in the sport after placing second in the 67-kg class at the Asian qualifiers in Bangkok in February.
The JOC had given the JTF and the Japan Taekwondo Association (JTA), a new taekwondo body launched due to a long-running internal feud in the JTF, until Wednesday to form a unified body for the Korean martial art.
No Japanese taekwondo fighters were sent to the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea, due to squabbling within the JTF, which led to a split and the formation of the JTA later that year.
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