Japanese athletes who won medals during the Rio Olympics expressed their appreciation Wednesday to all those who cheered for them during the 17-day event, which came to a close Sunday, and looked forward to more excitement at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 55 athletes, including delegation captain Saori Yoshida, gathered at a Tokyo hotel for a ceremony to report their return to Japan.
“I’m very disappointed that as captain I was able to manage only a silver medal, but I am very happy that the Japanese athletes were able to win a record number of medals,” said Yoshida, who suffered a shock defeat in the women’s freestyle wrestling 53-kg final.
The Japanese delegation won a record-high 41 medals — 12 golds, eight silvers and 21 bronze — at the Rio Olympics.
“The number of medals is the result of each athlete in every sport fighting with all their might without giving up until the end and of all those people in Japan who cheered for us from late at night to early in the morning,” Yoshida said, referring to the 12-hour time difference between Japan and Rio de Janeiro.
“Each of us will continue to work hard so that we will be able to repeat the excitement of Rio in Tokyo in four year’s time, or rather surpass it in terms of the joy, inspiration and encouragement we can offer everyone, so we hope for your continued support,” she added.
The Japanese Olympic Committee said it will hold a joint parade featuring the country’s Rio Olympians and Paralympians on Oct. 7.
Russian ban upheld
Geneva — Two days after Russia finished fourth in the Olympic medal table, its Paralympic team was barred from the next big games in Rio de Janeiro as punishment for a state-backed doping program.
Sport’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a decision by the International Paralympic Committee to exclude the sports superpower. It was a step the IOC declined to take when it had the chance last month.
The 267 entries which Russian Paralympic athletes earned in 18 sports for the Sept. 7-18 games in Rio will now be allocated to other nations not judged responsible for orchestrated cheating.
Russia won 36 gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics, second most in London, and was a runaway table-topping leader at its home 2014 Winter Paralympics.
Still, the Sochi Winter Games and Winter Paralympics are now notorious for results corrupted by state-funded agencies plotting to swap tainted doping samples from Russian athletes for clean ones at official testing laboratories.
In the fallout from those recent revelations — by the Russian lab director who has fled to the United States, and a World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry set up to investigate his claims — the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced its urgent verdict Tuesday.
CAS dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee’s appeal against exclusion from competing in Rio after a hearing was held in Brazil on Monday.
The court said its judges agreed the world Paralympic body “did not violate any procedural rule” in banning the Russian team two weeks ago.
Then, in Rio, the IPC President Philip Craven had said of Russia that: “Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me.”
“(The) decision to ban the (Russian team) was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances,” the sports court said Tuesday in a statement.