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Athletes in Japan suffered abuse, Human Rights Watch

According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch, young Japanese athletes have been a victim of physical, verbal and sexual abuse during their youth careers. The report, recording the ordeals of 800 athletes in 50 sports, comes in the week that would have marked the start of Tokyo Olympics if it was not for COVID-19 pandemic that has frozen the much anticipated and biggest Sports event in the world.

“The abuses include punching, slapping and excessive or insufficient food and water,” said Human Rights Watch Minky Worden.

The Japanese Olympic Committee has been contacted for their response after the publishing of the report. Japan Sports Council has also been mentioned by the human rights watchdog and contacted for a response. Japanese Olympic Committed in 2013 pledged to work for eradication of abuse among its sports federations after an internal survey disclosed that over 10% of is athletes had suffered harassment or bullying in their careers. It also cut funding to its judo federation for a brief period of time after finding that coaches attached with sport abused female Judokas.

“Human Rights Watch is calling on Japan to take decisive action and to lead in tackling this global crisis,” added Worden, who is HRW’s director of global initiatives.

The report consists of interviews, an online survey that registered experiences of 757 respondents and meeting with 8 Japanese sports bodies. Of the 381 survey respondents aged 24 or younger, 19% admitted that they had been hit, slapped, knocked, punched and kicked to the ground or beaten with an object while participating in the Sports.

18% said they have been subjected to verbal abuse while 5% reported experiencing sexual assault or harassment while doing their sport as a youth.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement: “We acknowledge the Human Rights Watch report. Harassment and abuse are unfortunately part of society and also occurs within sport.

“The IOC stands together with all athletes, everywhere, to state that abuse of any kind is contrary to the values of Olympism, which calls for respect for everyone in sport.”