Haruki Uemura, president of the All Japan Judo Federation, is to step down from the role next month over scandals relating to alleged physical abuse of female athletes in the run-up to last year’s Olympic Games in London and misuse of funds, according to reports in the country.
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported today that Uerma, who is also sports director of the International Judo Federation, the sport's governing body, and four other top officials had announced their intention to quit the AJJF during an extraordinary board meeting.
In March, the Japanese Olympic Committee slashed funding for the AJJF following allegations made by 15 current and former members of the women’s national judo team, concluding that there had been “serious misconduct.”
The athletes claimed they had been slapped, shoved and beaten with bamboo by head coach Ryuji Sonoda and his staff. Sonoda resigned in January.
There were also allegations that officials received money from a government coaching fund, even though they were not coaches.
The incidents came as an embarrassment within the Olympic movement for the JOC, particularly with Tokyo bidding to stage the 2020 Olympic Games. It is competing against Madrid and Istanbul to host the games, and will discover its fate on September 7.
The allegations prompted the JOC to conduct a survey of athletes in which 11.5 per cent of respondents said they had been victims of bullying or harassment. It has since launched a system in which individuals can anonymously report any violence, harassment or misconduct in sports administered by Japan’s national federations.
Last month, IJF president Marius Vizer vowed to work with the AJFF to “clean up” the sport, telling a news conference in Tokyo: “The IJF follows very carefully the present situation in Japanese judo. The IJF with the All Japan Judo Federation will do our best to clean up the situation and start with new reforms and new development in Japanese judo.”
He said the IJF had given the Japanese federation until October 15 to submit a full report on the incidents.