THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
August 2, 2021 at 13:05 JST
A man walks by the logo of Tokyo Olympic Games on Jan. 19. (AP Photo)
Japanese Olympic organizers said they will take stronger measures to protect the dignity of athletes who are increasingly becoming targets of abuse and insults on social media.
The Japanese Olympic Committee has been keeping close tabs on abusive online comments made against athletes and will “cooperate with related organizations according to the circumstances” to address the issue, a JOC representative said.
“Insulting behavior against athletes after their years of efforts is simply unforgivable,” Tsuyoshi Fukui, who leads the Japanese delegation for the Tokyo Olympics, said on Aug. 1.
According to Fukui, several Japanese Olympians have said they have been on the receiving end of nasty online messages and other abuse from “fans.”
Daiki Hashimoto, 19, posted a tweet on July 29, the day after he won the gold medal in the men’s artistic individual all-around in gymnastics.
While he said he is “happy to see many congratulatory messages,” he added, “I have also received messages that appear defamatory on social media.”
Many of the detractors argued that poor judging enabled the Japanese gymnast to win the competition.
The International Gymnastics Federation issued a statement on the same day, saying the judging was “fair and accurate.”
Jun Mizutani, 32, who won a gold medal in the mixed doubles in table tennis on July 26, said some social media posts have expressed wishes that he would die.
Mizutani on July 31 said in his tweet that he will take appropriate actions against these defamatory comments.
A company that manages Mizutani said the attack on social media has escalated during the Olympics, and the table tennis star is worried that younger players will become targets, too.
Kirsty Coventry, who heads the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, said at a July 29 news conference that some athletes have turned off social media.
Coventry said negative comments on social media can be very hurtful to athletes.
The IOC has set up a 24-hour emergency mental health hotline for all athletes, available in 70 languages.
The IOC is also discussing the creation of a handbook for coaches and staff on how to handle mental health issues.
(This article was written by Ken Murota, Hiroki Tohda and Takeo Yoshinaga.)
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