TOKYO (Reuters) – International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has held discussions with his counterpart at the Japanese Olympic Committee about eradicating abuse within Japanese sport following a damning report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last month.
The HRW report found child athletes in Japan often suffer physical and verbal abuse and sometimes sexual abuse during training after documenting the experiences of over 800 athletes in 50 sports.
The IOC said in a statement on Thursday that Bach had held a teleconference with JOC chief Yasuhiro Yamashita to discuss what changes have and will be made.
“Both Presidents stressed the determination of their organisations to fight against any form of abuse,” the IOC said.
The report, titled “I Was Hit So Many Times I Can’t Count”, looked at Japan’s history of physical punishment in sport and included first-hand accounts from athletes.
The timing of the HRW’s report is particularly poignant as Japan was expecting to be holding the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.
The Games, however, have now been postponed until 2021 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During their discussion, Yamashita stressed the different measures taken by Japanese sport to try to prevent abuse.
In 2013, the JOC promised to take steps to wipe out violence among its sports federations after an internal survey revealed more than 10% of its athletes had been victims of bullying or harassment.
Since then, a new governance code for sports organisations has been established in Japan, but the HRW says it is not enough.
“In light of incidents in the past, various efforts have been made to eliminate abuse in the sport world,” the JOC said in their own statement on Thursday.
“Together with each NF (National Sporting Federation) and other relevant bodies, the JOC will continuously exert the utmost effort to revert to the fundamental understanding of wiping abuse from elite sports activities.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Toby Davis)