National men's judo team coach Kosei Inoue said he is staying the course in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent postponement of the Tokyo Games, while also keeping tabs on his Olympic representatives.
"It's a tough, frustrating time for everyone, I'm putting up with it all," Inoue told Kyodo News in a recent phone interview. "We are recalculating the schedule and cramming as much as we can into it."
Inoue said since athletes cannot use a dojo for training while Japan is in a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, he has asked his judoka to practice at home. The All Japan Judo Federation suspended practice in late February as infections began to spike across the nation.
The AJJF is dealing with its own crisis after nearly half of the administrative staff at its headquarters in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward became infected with the virus.
As a result, talks have been suspended on whether or not athletes who have already qualified will retain their right to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics due to the one-year delay.
"I hope the people in the federation's administrative office recover quickly," Inoue said. "I'd like to get to the stage where we can hold a meeting."
Inoue revealed he is "keeping in close contact" with the six men who have been selected so far for Japan's Olympic team. He said he also has plans to provide them with videos of home training methods and lectures by those outside the judo world.
"You can thoroughly refine your tactics through video research," Inoue said. "I want them to broaden their horizons and make good use of this time so they can become strong athletes."
Inoue said for his part he is staying at home unless he has to visit Tokai University, where he also works as a professor. The 41-year-old said he has become an expert at preparing his children's bento lunch boxes.
For children across the country who are unable to take part in matches or training, Inoue offered some words of encouragement, saying, "This experience will be a great force for the future. I want you to challenge yourself to never be pessimistic and really think about what you can do right now."
Of the seven Olympic weight classes, the Japanese men's 66-kg representative has yet to be decided. Sources close to the matter said the federation is planning to discuss unresolved issues during an online conference on May 15.
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