Judo: Time to clean house, world body's chief tells Japan

TOKYO (AFP) - The world judo chief urged Japan on Monday to clean up its act after the sport was sullied in its birthplace by scandals, including abusive coaching, misuse of funds and sexual harassment.

International Judo Federation (IJF) president Marius Vizer told a news conference in Tokyo that Japan's judo authority needed to shape up because he is aiming to raise the sport's profile in the Olympics with reforms.

"The IJF follows very carefully the present situation in Japanese judo," he said. "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."

Japan's judo community was rocked in February when the coach of the national women's team was found to have used a bamboo sword to beat athletes, calling his charges "ugly" and telling them to "die" in the run-up to the London Olympics.

The coach resigned later.

In April, judo officials were accused of receiving subsidies for coaches from a government fund although they did not serve as coaches.

Then the Japanese federation said last month it was considering expelling Jiro Fukuda, 76, for life following the revelation that he made unwanted sexual advances towards a female athlete in 2011.

Vizer said the IJF had given the Japanese federation until Oct 15 to submit a full report on the incidents and that the IJF would take appropriate action against any illegal acts.

Vizer, an Austrian businessman who became the IJF president in 2007, was visiting Tokyo after his May election as president of SportAccord, an umbrella organisation for all international sports federations.

He said the visit was partly aimed at grasping the "situation" in Japan as his organisation wants to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow a team competition to be added to the judo programme for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 2016 programme will be decided at an IOC session in Buenos Aires in early September.

"We have a great chance to go with the teams to the Rio Olympics," said Vizer, 55, who is credited with promoting judo as a more visible international sport by establishing a full world tour, introducing world rankings and modifying rules.

He said the IJF's efforts in the last four or five years had helped judo go up in a new revenue-sharing ranking of Olympic sports in five categories by which IOC fund allotments for the Rio Olympics are distributed.

In late May, the IOC executive board promoted judo to the third tier from the fourth tier. The top flight consists of athletics, swimming and gymnastics.

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