Two senior officials of the Japan Gymnastics Association denied on Friday a harassment allegation made by an Olympic gymnast but admitted some of their words and actions may have been inappropriate.
“We have never uttered threatening words to Miyakawa,” Chieko Tsukahara and her husband Mitsuo Tsukahara said in a statement, responding to the allegation made by Sae Miyakawa, a 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian.
“We apologize for deeply hurting her feelings,” they added.
The JGA said an independent committee will investigate the alleged harassment. The Tsukaharas said they will consider whether to resign after seeing the outcome of the investigation.
The 18-year-old Olympian claimed at a news conference on Wednesday that Chieko Tsukahara, who is in charge of training the women’s national team, said she could lose her spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as she had initially refused to join the association’s training project.
Chieko Tsukahara said in the statement that she had intended to tell Miyakawa it would be difficult for her to join the national team as the gymnast had injured her ankle and performed poorly recently, but she had not threatened Miyakawa.
She also denied being “heavy-handed” with Miyakawa when conducting a hearing on violence inflicted by Miyakawa’s coach, adding she recorded the conversation during the hearing.