Olympics

JOC on verge of naming judo federation chief Yasuhiro Yamashita next president: source

Kyodo

The Japanese Olympic Committee is set to name former Olympic judo gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita as successor to longtime president Tsunekazu Takeda, who is under investigation by French authorities for alleged bribery, a source said Friday.

Takeda will retire at the end of his current term in June as a result of the bribery allegations, which are related to Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Games.

Yamashita, who won nine straight national championships during his impressive judo career, currently serves as a senior executive board member of the JOC.

The 61-year-old has also been the president of the All Japan Judo Federation since 2017.

According to a JOC source, JOC managing director Kozo Tashima, the Japan Football Association’s president, and JOC vice president Seiko Hashimoto were also looked upon as candidates to replace Takeda. Both declined citing other responsibilities outside the JOC.

Yamashita, a native of Kumamoto Prefecture, won the men’s open-weight category gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and is a recipient of the prestigious People’s Honor Award.

While Takeda has denied the allegations, he told reporters that “it is appropriate to leave the JOC to younger leaders” as the country prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

He has also resigned as a member of the International Olympic Committee, where he had served since 2012.

French authorities suspect money paid from the Tokyo bid committee to Singaporean firm Black Tidings went to Papa Massata Diack, a Senegalese man whose father, Lamine, was a powerful member of the IOC at the time.

Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in September 2013, beating Istanbul and Madrid.