Four Japanese basketball players kicked out of the Asian Games for paying prostitutes for sex will be suspended for a year, officials said Wednesday.
Japan Basketball Association chief Yuko Mitsuya told reporters the players would be barred from official tournaments for a year, adding their action “damages the honour and trust of Japan’s sporting world”.
They would be allowed to take part in training, however, Mitsuya added. The players were spotted in a notorious red light district of the Indonesian capital Jakarta wearing their national jerseys and were promptly sent home in disgrace.
The expulsion of Yuya Nagayoshi, Takuya Hashimoto, Takuma Sato and Keita Imamura came as a major embarrassment for Japan, which is gearing up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “I deeply apologise for our careless actions that have brought disgrace on not only basketball fans but also all Japanese people,” Sato told a news conference last week after the four returned to Tokyo.
They were believed to have been solicited by a pimp to go to a hotel with women but a reporter for Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper spotted them and broke the story. At the last Asian Games in 2014, Japan officials were forced to send home swimmer Naoya Tomita after he was caught on video stealing a journalist’s camera from the pool deck.
It is far from the first case of sexual misconduct at major multi-sport events, which typically draw thousands of athletes, officials and fans from around the world. At the 2014 Asian Games, an Iranian official was kicked out for the verbal sexual harassment of a female volunteer, and a Palestinian footballer was accused of groping a female worker at the athletes’ village.
In April, at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, a Mauritian official was accused of sexually assaulting a female athlete during a photo shoot.