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Asian Games: Japanese basketball players punished over buying sex

Yasuhiro Yamashita, head of the Japanese delegation to the Asian Games, bows in apology during a press conference in Jakarta on Aug. 20, 2018, after four players of the men's basketball team paid for prostitutes in the Indonesian capital. (Kyodo)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- The Japanese Olympic Committee has penalized four players on the men's Asian Games basketball team for buying sex in Jakarta and sent them back home, a senior official said Monday.

Japanese delegation chief Yasuhiro Yamashita, speaking at a press conference in the Indonesian capital, said the players were stripped Sunday of their membership of the national team as their conduct violated the committee's rules.

The B-League players -- Yuya Nagayoshi, 27, Takuya Hashimoto, 23, Takuma Sato, 23, and Keita Imamura, 22 -- left Jakarta early Monday morning to return to Japan, according Yamashita, who led a record-high 762-athlete delegation to the Asian Games, the world's biggest multisport event after the Olympics.

This is the latest in a spate of scandals that have tarnished the image of the Japanese sports world in recent months as the country gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The four players went out from the athletes' village after 10 p.m. on Thursday to have dinner and later that night they "paid for the services of prostitutes," Yamashita said.

Following their team's 82-71 win over Qatar on that day, the players first went to a Japanese restaurant in a major entertainment district, called Block M in the city, wearing their team uniforms.

After dinner, they left and were approached by a tout on the street who introduced them to women from another shop, whom they brought to a nearby hotel and conducted "inappropriate acts" with.

"This action violated the national team's code of conduct...and it betrayed the expectations of Japanese citizens," Yamashita said. "As the chief of the delegation, it is very regrettable and I deeply apologize from the bottom my heart," he said.

The remaining eight players on the Japanese basketball team will continue to participate in the tournament running through Sept. 1. There will be no substitutes for the four ousted players.

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