Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Japanese keirin officials deny bribery report

Japanese officials on Tuesday denied a report that the track cycling sport of keirin may have bribed its way into the Olympic Games.
The BBC said an investigation had uncovered documents outlining payments of $3 million from the Japan Keirin Association (JKA) to cycling’s world governing body the UCI.
But a senior Japanese official insisted there had been no wrongdoing before keirin first entered the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
“The JKA has been co-operating with the UCI for many years to develop keirin and we have been involved in various activities to improve the sport,” the JKA’s Akihiro Matsukawa said.
“I have not been able to verify the documents the BBC say they have but the JKA denies the claims (of bribery).”
Keirin, which involves riders following a motorbike for several laps before a sprint finish, is big business in Japan, its country of origin, generating huge gambling revenues.
Hein Verbruggen, president of the UCI from 1991 to 2005, also protested his innocence.
“It has been done in total transparency,” Verbruggen, currently the International Olympic Committee’s chief inspector, told the BBC.
“This was done for the development of track cycling around the world.”
Britain’s Chris Hoy won keirin gold at this year’s world championships in Manchester and will start as favorite in Beijing.

from: Beijing Olympic Games 2008

Japan Olympians pack builder face masks for Beijing

Japanese athletes may don masks made for construction workers to cope with air pollution during the Beijing Olympics, a doctor affiliated with the Japanese Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.

More and more athletes from around the world are considering wearing face masks for the Games, despite official promises of clearer skies in Beijing and warnings that pictures of masked competitors could embarrass host China.

“Our previous research shows the amount of dust in the air is high in Beijing, and that may affect some of the Japanese athletes,” Takao Akama, the committee’s medical adviser, told Reuters.

Marathon runners and bicyclists might not be the only ones who opt to use the masks during competition.

“Some athletes are sensitive, so we have decided to have those pollution masks ready for any member of the Japanese Olympic team who would like to use one,” said Akama, a physician at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Koken Ltd, the company that makes the mask, has supplied the committee with 500 industrial-strength masks, designed for use on construction sites. Japan’s team has almost 600 members.

Beijing’s air pollution, a sometimes acrid mix of construction dust, vehicle exhaust and factory and power plant fumes, has been one of the biggest worries for Games organizers.

On Tuesday, state media quoted Beijing authorities as saying sauna-like weather trapping hazy pollution in the Olympic host city would not last throughout the games in August. Chinese officials have repeatedly said there is no need for foreign athletes to bring masks. Beijing is also considering additional pollution controls if the air stays too dirty.

from: Beijing Olympic Games

Japanese PM hopes to see finest performance of Japanese athletes at Beijing Olympics

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Monday that he hopes to see the finest performance of Japanese athletes at the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.

The Olympics, which is of lofty value, will inspirit every Japanese national to cheer for their team, said Fukuda in a send-off ceremony held for the Japanese Olympic delegation.

He expressed the hope that the athletes will recognize the value of the Olympics and put in their finest-ever performance.

He also expected the athletes to make their respective effort to present a vigorous Japan to the audience.

As Japan won a record 37 medals, including 16 golds, at the Athens Olympic Games four years ago, Fukuda said his expectation is that every Japanese athlete will be awarded a medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The Japanese Olympic delegation, composed of 339 athletes and 237 officials, is Japan's largest deputation to participate in an Olympics held outside the country.

The delegation is headed by senior Japanese Olympic Committee official Tomiaki Fukuda, who said that the goal for the Japanese Olympic team is to win double digit golds and at least a total 30 medals.

Present at the ceremony was 19-year-old table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, who will lead the delegation as the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8.

Earlier Monday, the Japanese Olympic Committee announced the inauguration of the 576-strong Japanese Olympic delegation, which will head for Beijing in separate batches.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Japanese have tight hold on judo

Once upon a time it was customary for the host nation to be able to add a sport to the Olympic program.

So when the Games were in Tokyo in 1964, judo came on board. And it is easy to see why since the Japanese usually dominate the sport.

In the 14 weight classes (seven for men and seven for women) at the Athens Olympics, Japan placed a competitor in 10 gold medal matches. The Japanese won eight of the 10.

The participants in each weight class are divided into two direct-elimination pools and the winner of the two pools meet for the gold medal.

This is also a sport where it pays to cheer for the person who beat you in an early round. All those who lose to the eventual pool champion make up two second-chance pools and the winners of those each get a bronze medal.

Judo is one of only two sports in the Olympics, boxing being the other, where two bronze medals are awarded.

from: upi.com

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Japanese girl returns to Florence to atone for graffiti

A Japanese teenager who was caught on video daubing graffiti on the Duomo in Florence flew back to the Renaissance city at her own expense to apologize, Italian media report.

The 19-year-old fashion student from Japan’s Gifu University also offered 600 euros, television and news agency reports said.

“We accept the apologies and we accept the money exceptionally for the gesture’s great sense of civility,” said the Duomo’s chief curator Anna Mitrano, flanked by the university’s visiting rector, Yukitoshi Matsuda.

The incident, which took place in February and was captured on film, was one of several involving Japanese visitors in recent months.

Mitrano noted that 2008 marked the 30th year of a friendship pact between Florence and Gifu.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

French president to attend opening of Beijing Olympics

TOYAKO - French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, representing his own country and the European Union, his office said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy met Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of a summit of world leaders in nothern Japan on Wednesday.
The President of the Republic has confimed to the Chinese president his intention of travelling to Beijing on August 8 to take part in the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games,” the French presidency’s office said in a statement.
As well as France, Sarkozy would represent the EU because France holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation bloc, the office said.

from: www.robladin.com

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson of South Africa, both surprise winners on the tour in 2008, were on Monday handed wildcards into the Olympics.
Defending Olympic champion Nicolas Massu of Chile has been successful in his campaign to take part in the tournament despite his world ranking have slumped to 93.
Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman, 35, who will retire at the end of the year, Belarus’s Max Mirnyi and well as China’s Peng Sun were also handed wildcards.
Japanese teenager Nishikori won the title in Delray Beach while Anderson was the Las Vegas winner.
In the women’s singles, the invitaations went to Alicia Molik of Australia, Maria Koryttseva of Ukraine, Taiwan’s Yung-Jan Chan, Japan’s Ayumi Morita, Nuria Llagostera-Vives of Spain and Tunisia’s Selima Sfar.
“Each of the players who have been awarded an ITF Place brings special qualities to the field for the 2008 Olympic Tennis Event,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.
“Some of the players are young competitors from under-represented parts of the world while others are former medallists or long-standing participants in their country’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup efforts.”
Molik was thrilled by her inclusion in the field.
“This is probably the best news I’ve had since 2004,” said Molik.
“I have played in two Olympics and I have to say they’re the absolute highlight of my career. Nothing comes close to playing in the Olympics, representing your country. It is the most amazing experience any individual can have. It was always a childhood dream of mine.”

from: www.robladin.com

College student warned for graffiti on historical Italian cathedral

Gifu City Women's College has handed a strict warning to a student who drew graffiti on the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, during an overseas study tour, college officials said.

The historic center of Florence, including the cathedral, is inscribed on the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List.

The church said it would not demand payment for restoration if it received an apology, so the student and a college department chairman both sent apologies in English.

College officials said that the a first-year student in the college's Department of Design for Contemporary Life wrote the date, her name, and the names of five friends with an oil-based marker on the marble wall of a lookout at the cathedral on Feb. 18. The student also reportedly wrote an abbreviation of the name of the college.

The incident was uncovered after a Japanese tourist contacted the college on March 12 via e-mail. The college president reportedly issued a strict verbal warning to the student on March 14.