The 15 women judoka (judo athlete) who have lodged formal complaints of alleged physical and verbal abuse within the national team have revealed Wednesday that they are considering making their names public. The complaint lodged by the athletes, some of whom competed for Japan at the recent London Olympics, has already led to the resignation of head coach Ryuji Sonoda, assistant coach Kazuhiko Tokuno and Kazuo Yoshimura, the All Japan Judo Federation’s head of development.
The Japan Olympic Committee’s special group on women’s sports, which received the athletes’ formal complaint in December, made know some of the details in the document on Wednesday. “We are taking the athletes’ complaint very seriously,” said committee chairman Kaori Yamaguchi, herself a former world judo champion. “If there is some way to protect the careers of the athletes, then I think their names can be made public. Many of the 15 women who lodged the complaint are still actively competing, and this could affect their careers. I think that the way things are now, [releasing their names] is premature,” she added.
The head of the All Japan Judo Federation, Haruki Uemura, has stated that discrimination against women was non-existent in the federation. “There isn’t anyone (here) who thinks that if someone is a woman, she won’t do. We may even have a female director soon,” he added. Uemura is scheduled to join the other members of the International Judo Federation at the Paris Grand Slam that runs from Feb. 9 to 10.
“For the founding nation (of judo), this has been very bad news,” he said. “I want to be able to explain the matter carefully, so as not to hold back the Olympic bid (of Tokyo for the 2020 Games),” Uemura concluded.