Photo/IllutrationYasuhiro Yamashita, chief of the Japanese delegation of the Asian Games, bows in apology for a sex scandal caused by four players on the men's Asian Games basketball team in Jakarta on Aug. 20. (Ryo Kato)

JAKARTA--Four Japanese basketball players were bounced from the athletes' village of the 2018 Asian Games and kicked off the national team after cavorting with women in a red-light district while in their official team uniforms.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) said on Aug. 20 that it stripped the four players of their membership on Japan's national squad and sent them back to Japan early in the morning.

The JOC ruled the four had violated the code of conduct for members of Japan's Asian Games delegation.

Those sent home from the Asian Games, which runs from Aug. 18 through Sept. 2, were Yuya Nagayoshi, 27, Takuya Hashimoto, 23, Takuma Sato, 23, and Keita Imamura, 22.

Following their game with Qatar on Aug. 16, the four players left the athletes' village at around 10 p.m., heading to the Blok M, South Jakarta, to dine together.

Since the players were wearing their Japan team uniforms, they were accosted on the street in an entertainment district by an ethnic Japanese, who lured them to an establishment where women were waiting for customers.

Afterward, the players each went to a hotel with a woman and returned to the athletes’ village the following morning.

“It’s extremely lamentable to announce that (some of) the athletes violated the daily code of conduct of the delegation,” said Yasuhiro Yamashita, the head of Japan's delegation, during a news conference in Jakarta. “We apologize for disappointing Japanese people’s expectations."

In response to questions from reporters, asking him whether such conduct with the women was “equivalent to buying sex” or whether “players had paid for committing this type of conduct with the women,” the former Olympic champion judoka said, "I think so."

“But the most unacceptable thing was the fact that they committed such a deed (of having sex with women),” Yamashita said, explaining why the committee revoked their membership from Japan's delegation.

Although the number of players on the Japanese basketball squad dropped from 12 to eight as a result of the committee’s decision, the men’s basketball team will continue participating in the Asian Games. The delegation concluded "there was not enough reasonable grounds for prohibiting the team from entering the game to shoulder collective responsibility" for the misconduct of the four players.

“I’ve been calling for implementing a code of conduct through every opportunity and conscious of the commitment and pride of the team, but it was insufficient,” Yamashita said.

(This article was written by Takeshi Teruya in Jakarta and Toru Nakakoji.)