MOSCOW – The International Fencing Federation elected Japanese world champion and double Olympic medalist Yuki Ota as a member of its executive board Sunday.
Ota, who retired after this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he lost in the round of 32 in individual foil, will serve a four-year term on the board.
“Japan has too few sports organizations and athletes that go onto the international stage,” Ota said. “In Japan, athletes are trained to follow rules, but it is important to be on the side that makes them, and all the more so as the Tokyo Olympics will come and Japan will have to internationalize further.”
The 31-year-old already had the right to vote on the board in his capacity as head of the player’s executive committee, to which he was named in 2013. But as his term expires next year, he decided to run for a place on the board to maintain Japan’s voice through the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“Japan has until now been a big economic power, so people would listen to what it says. But as its population shrinks and economic growth looks unlikely, we need to raise our presence in a different way,” Ota said.
“This time, I was able to gain an environment in which I can exert myself for the sake of fencing and sports, so I will work hard so that I can live up to everyone’s expectations,” he added.
Ota won the individual foil silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and team silver in London in 2012 before becoming the first Japanese to win an individual event at the world fencing championships in 2015.
He played an active role in Tokyo’s winning bid to host the 2020 Games.
Alisher Usmanov, who was elected to his third term as president of the federation also at its congress in Moscow, told a press conference that the meeting was successful in part because Ota became the youngest-ever member of the body’s executive board.