Just when Tokyo got a boost in its campaign to host the 2020 Olympics, a judo coach abuse scandal surfaced within the Japanese sporting culture and threatens to undermine the bid.
Tokyo bid officials were pleased on Jan. 30 when a poll showed public support had risen to 73 percent, given that low public enthusiasm helped derail the 2016 bid.
But the same day, the Japan Judo Federation revealed the head coach of the women's Olympic team, Ryuji Sonoda, had used violence against athletes at a training camp before the London Olympics. He resigned the next day.
The revelations raise concerns for Tokyo 2020 bid officials, knowing an IOC evaluation committee will visit in March. One of the main themes of Tokyo's bid is "athletes first."
On Friday, the Japanese Olympic Committee said a two-day preliminary hearing of its 31 Olympic sports federations found no cases of violence or harassment during training since the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Later Friday, the International Judo Federation issued a statement that members of the Japan women's judo team have been indefinitely suspended while an independent inquiry considers their complaints of ill treatment.
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