Judo great Yasuhiro Yamashita replaces scandal-hit Takeda as Japan Olympic Committee chief
Former Olympic judo gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita was appointed president of the Japanese Olympic Committee on Thursday during an executive board meeting in Tokyo.
Yamashita won a gold medal in the men’s judo open-weight category at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and nine straight national championships during his career, and has been the president of the All Japan Judo Federation since 2017. The 61-year-old from Kumamoto Prefecture served on the JOC executive board as chairman of the sports committee up until the announcement was made during a news conference following an executive board meeting on Thursday.
“I understand the weight of the responsibility I’ve been given and I will do everything I can to carry on what President Takeda accomplished during his time in this position,” Yamashita said. “The Olympics and Paralympics are the pinnacle of sports. With less than a year, I hope we can prepare as best we can for the 2020 games.”
Yamashita will replace Tsunekazu Takeda, 71, who announced in March that he would retire at the end of his 10th term as JOC president amid an investigation by French authorities for alleged bribery during Tokyo’s successful bid to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also resigned from the International Olympic Committee.
Takeda has been under investigation by French authorities since news emerged that he signed off on payments to a Singaporean consulting company leading up to the IOC vote in September 2013 for Tokyo to host the games over Madrid and Istanbul.
“Our goal as a nation is to win 30 medals during the 2020 Games. If our athletes, which represent the pride of our nation, compete to the best of their abilities, this goal is possible,” Yamashita said. “But, as the new president, I understand the extent of my own strength. I can’t do this on my own. With the athletes, staff and the newest board members of the JOC, I hope we can work together as a team to make the 2020 Games a success.”