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Asian Games: Japan basketball players sent home after spending night with women

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Four players from Japan’s Asian Games men’s basketball team were sent home in disgrace on Monday after spending the night with women in a Jakarta hotel.

Officials said the players left the athletes’ village following their game against Qatar on Thursday to eat at a restaurant where they met a Japanese-speaking local, who told them about a bar where they could meet women.

Takuya Hashimoto, Keita Imamura, Yuya Nagayoshi and Takuma Sato, who were wearing their team uniforms, spent a couple of hours at the bar before checking into a hotel with four women, staying there until Friday morning, officials added.

“The Japan Olympic Committee decided to withdraw their accreditation and send them back to Japan early this morning,” delegation head Yasuhiro Yamashita told a news conference on Monday.

“We have a specific disciplinary code, it’s a clear breach of the code of conduct for the Japanese delegation.”

Yamashita said the Japanese Olympic Committee took the issue of discipline in the team very seriously and that the players would be heading home at their own expense.

“A day after our arrival here the Chef de Mission and other top officials told the athletes that they had to be role models in Jakarta,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that after that instruction and encouragement, this kind of issue happened, I deeply apologise to the Japanese people as the head of the delegation.”

Yuko Mitsuya, chairwoman of the Japan Basketball Association (JBA), also apologised for the incident, which she described as “disgraceful”.

2018 Asian Games - Opening Ceremony - GBK Main Stadium - Jakarta, Indonesia - August 18, 2018 Athletes from Japan march REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Files

“As athletes representing Japan their actions were unspeakable, and there is no excuse for their indiscretion,” she said in a statement posted on the JBA website.

“We do not have all the details yet, but we will conduct interviews with the players involved and report later about how they will be punished.”

Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah later commended the JOC on their swift action.

“Athletes should be an example to society,” the Kuwaiti told a news conference.

“To represent your country is not only to stand with medals but also in your dealings with other athletes, officials, volunteers and the people of the host country.

“I hope the Japanese and other athletes learn a lesson from this.”

At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon swimmer Naoya Tomita brought embarrassment to Japan when he was caught on surveillance cameras stealing video equipment from a journalist.

He was later fined by a South Korean court and banned from competition for 18 months by the Japanese swimming federation.

Japan, who won basketball bronze at the last Asian Games four years ago, beat Qatar 82-71 in their second game in Jakarta and top qualifying Group C. Their next fixture is against Hong Kong on Wednesday.

“The remaining eight players, officials and coaches will stay here to continue to play for the rest of the competition,” Yamashita added.

The next Olympics will be hosted by Japan in Tokyo in 2020.

Writing by Nick Mulvenney; additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; editing by Peter Rutherford

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