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Scandal-hit wrestling coach Sakae dismissed from university coaching duties

Shigakkan University President Ikuko Tanioka apologizes to reporters over its former head coach Kazuhito Sakae's power harassment case in Tokyo on June 17, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Former Japan Wrestling Federation (JWF) development director Kazuhito Sakae was fired as head coach of the Shigakkan University wrestling team, on June 18, only four days after Sakae apologized for power-harassing four-time Olympic wrestling champion Kaori Icho.

The president of the university Ikuko Tanioka, who also serves as JWF vice president, announced the decision on June 17.

Sakae, 57, held a press conference on June 14 apologizing for his harassment of Icho, 34. However, Tanioka told reporters in Tokyo that she decided to remove Sakae as the head coach because he had "shown no signs of reflecting on his actions."

Tanioka spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun at the Japan wrestling championships venue at the Komazawa Olympic Park Gymnasium in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward. According to her explanation, Sakae left for lunch during matches on the second day of the championships on June 15, and did not attend to wrestlers during their matches despite her request he do so. His behavior, said Tanioka, 64, was "completely disappointing, and shows his lack of understanding of the situation."

When Tanioka informed Sakae of his removal as head coach on the morning of June 16, he replied with an apology, the university president said.

Shigakkan University had decided to keep Sakae on as head coach this past April, but Tanioka commented, "Perhaps we are too lenient (on him)."

On the possibility of university vice president and three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida, 35, replacing Sakae as head coach, Tanioka said, "It could happen."

With this latest firing, Sakae -- who had trained many Olympic medalists -- has now been stripped of all of his coaching duties.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Kurasawa, Sports News Department)

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