Yuko Arimori, vice president of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF), blackmails the Hokkaido Athletics Association for failing to pay 7.35 million in registration fees! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Yuko Arimori, vice president of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF), blackmails the Hokkaido Athletics Association for failing to pay 7.35 million in registration fees!

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Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) Vice President Yuko Arimori in an interview (photo as of 2019)

Yuko Arimori, 56, vice president of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF), was interviewed by FRIDAY Digital in an exclusive interview regarding the issue of the Hokkaido Athletics Association’s failure to pay 735,500 yen in athlete registration fees to the JAAF for fiscal 2010, which were collected from junior high, high school, university students and others . If I were a child in Hokkaido, I would be angry.

Each athletic organization is in dire financial straits due to the COVID-19 crisis, the withdrawal of sponsors in the wake of the economic downturn, and reductions in sponsorships and broadcasting rights fees. The Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) is no exception, and as a last-ditch measure, decided to raise athlete registration fees at its September 2008 board meeting.

Although the registration fee differs from prefecture to prefecture, it is less than ¥1,000 per athlete per year for junior and senior high school students, and between ¥1,500 and ¥4,000 for university students and adults, and is used to finance the local athletic federations.
From this amount, a “data bank fee” is paid to the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF). The fee for junior and senior high school students was 50 yen and 100 yen for university students and the general public, but in FY2009 the fee per athlete was increased to 500 yen for junior and senior high school students and 1,000 yen for university students and above, a substantial tenfold increase.

“In FY’20, the federation’s income is expected to decrease by about 60% from the original budget.” In FY 2008, we are thoroughly downsizing and reducing all programs and making efforts to cut various expenses, but a significant deficit is inevitable.

Therefore, we have accelerated our consideration of securing a new independent financial resource, and proposed at the board meeting that we ask for the cooperation of all registered members to pay the registration fee from the fiscal year 2009. After considering various opinions and discussing the amount of the fee, the decision was made” (excerpt from the JAAF website).

If the payment of the “top-up fee” increases, the local JAAF will suffer a major blow as their share will decrease, but the fact that only the JAAF has not paid the fee is a clear violation of the rules. Article 8 of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF) Rules for Registered Members stipulates that “registration fees must be paid,” and failure to do so will result in disqualification of athletes and erasure of their rankings and records. It is understandable that the junior and senior high school students were angered and concerned by the adults’ improper accounting practices, wondering what was going on, even though they had paid their registration fees in full. Where in the world did the 7.35 million yen or so go?

Won a silver medal in the women’s marathon at the ’92 Barcelona Olympics. She was the first female track and field athlete to win a medal in 64 years. She also won a bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, the first time in 64 years that a Japanese female track and field athlete has won medals at two consecutive Olympics. Her comment that “top athletes risk their lives” carries a lot of weight.

Nanbu Memorial Athletics Canceled?

For Vice President Arimori, Hokkaido was the starting point for her rise from an unknown runner to a member of the Olympic team.

In her first year with Recruit Co., she ran a training camp in Shibetsu City on a straight road cut through the wilderness, and asked then coach Yoshio Koide to switch from track events to marathon running. Two years later, she won the silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

After that, she suffered a heel injury and underwent surgery, but in August 1995, she participated in the Hokkaido Marathon, running 42.195 km for the first time in three years, winning in 2 hours, 29 minutes, and 17 seconds, and making a miraculous comeback to take third place at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. She is the only Japanese female athlete to have competed in two Olympics. The only Japanese women’s track and field medalist in two consecutive Olympics is heartbroken over the current situation in the northern region of Japan, which she says is “almost like a second home.

The local Hokkaido Shimbun (November 1) reported under the headline “DOCOMO Puts 15 Million Yen in Deposits and Savings, Unable to Secure Operating Expenses,” that a single employee had manipulated the accounting and entered a different account than the actual amount of deposits and savings.

There are widespread doubts about next year’s Nanbu Memorial Athletic Meet, which has a long history and has been hosted 36 times since 1988 by the Hokkaido Athletic Association. Since the event is named after Chuhei Nambu, the triple jump gold medalist at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932 and a native of Sapporo, the worst-case scenario must be avoided at all costs.

As the vice president of the Athletics Federation, I don’t want to cancel the event, but I don’t know what it would mean to cancel it. But I hope that the members of the Hokkaido Athletics Association will think about what would happen if the event were to be cancelled. If that happens, it will affect everything. It would be as if you were saying, ‘Are you going to throw away the event that you cherish the most?

The athletes, the judges, and the people around them who have supported them should be outraged. If the Sanyo Women’s Road Race in my hometown (Okayama) were to be cancelled, I would ask, “Why? If the Sanyo women’s road race in my hometown (Okayama) was canceled, I would say, “Why? I would be like, “Why? As a former athlete, I can tell you that top athletes put their lives on the line, and junior and senior high school students are working hard, dreaming of the future. Everyone is desperate.

Yuko Arimori smiles as she is congratulated by her colleagues on her election as the new director of the World Association of Athletics Federations, which will have the important responsibility of ensuring the success of the World Championships in Athletics to be held in Tokyo in two years.

Athletes Are Not Customers

In early November, shocking news broke. The Japan Swimming Federation, which forms the core of the athletic organization along with the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, has been unable to send its women’s water polo team to the World Championships to be held in Doha next February due to a lack of funds, cutting off the team’s path to the Paris Olympics.

I was surprised,” said Arimori, referring to his own experience as a professional athlete.

But athletes are not customers. I want them to think about what they can do and what they should do. For example, track and field athletes should hold running classes to convey the appeal of running, and famous athletes should get out more to promote themselves.

Mr. Arimori’s personal theory is not “athletes first,” but “society first. He has repeatedly emphasized that sports are merely a means for people to live peacefully and healthily in society, and that they must not be arrogant. The severe financial situation may be the time for athletes to reexamine their own existence.

In the Japanese sports world, where a vertical society of senior and junior athletes and the nature of the athletic association cannot be dispelled, he has maintained a style in which he stands tall and speaks out his own opinions with dignity. When he ran for the World Association of Athletics Federations (WAAF) Board of Directors this summer, he garnered a large number of supporters and was elected as the top candidate, with the heavy responsibility of ensuring the success of the Tokyo World Championships in Athletics two years later.

He said, “Rather than the JAAF controlling everything, I hope that the local JAAF and those involved in athletics can create a desire for everyone to do things together and give shape to that desire. And as for the issue of the JAAF, considering the seriousness of the matter, I would like people to have the feeling that the organizations around them will not help them easily. By no means do I want you to take this matter lightly.”

Because of the importance of cooperation between the central and local governments, he is keeping a close eye on the issue of nonpayment of registration fees. I wonder how much the DORF, which is on the verge of extinction, understands the thoughts of Vice President Arimori.

  • Interview and text Toshiki Tsuda

    As a reporter in the sports department of the Sankei Shimbun, he covered the Seibu and Giants professional baseball teams, the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992, and the Barcelona Summer Olympics in the same year. He is currently a freelance journalist. He is the author of "Sports Reporting without Blurring (Kotoshisha)" and the editor of "Kwangaku, Kyodai, Ritsumei: The Three Kingdoms of American Football (Sankei Shimbun Publications)".

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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