Just a year before Japan hosts the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and their rear end is already on fire. Human Rights Watch has released a report documenting a series of systematic corporal punishment in sports, which they call ‘Taibatsu’ in Japanese.
The young Athletes are known to suffer physical, sexual, and verbal abuse when training, which results in long life consequences like trauma, depression and anxiety, physical disabilities, and even suicide.
The report was titled, “I was hit so many times, I can’t count.”
The investigation found instances of abuse such as punches in the face, kicking, beating with objects like bats or bamboo kendo sticks, water deprivation, chocking, whipping, and sexual abuse.
A part of the report read, “Participation in sport should provide children with the joy of play, and with an opportunity for physical and mental development and growth, in Japan, however, violence and abuse are too often a part of the child athlete’s experience. As a result, the sport has been a cause of pain, fear, and distress for far too many Japanese children.
“Athletes interviewed by Human Rights Watch described a culture of impunity for abusive coaches. Of recent child athlete interviewees who experienced abuse, all but one reported that there were no known consequences for the coach.”
Complaints came from 800 former athletes, 50 interviews in person with athletes, and some from online questioners. A 23-year-old athlete spoke about her experience playing in baseball in Japan, “I was hit so many times, I can’t count. We were all called to the coach, and I was hit in the face in front of everyone, I was bleeding, but he did not stop”. The identity of the person was kept in anonymity for his or her safety
A month ago, a 22-year-old triathlete, Choi Suk-Hyeon, died after being abused by her coaching staff. She was found dead at her team’s dorm after sending text messages to her family, opening up about the abuse and the people who should be held responsible.
Is abuse the answer to motivation?
According to the Human Rights Watch, physical violence and corporal punishment are often seen as essential to achieving excellence in competitions in Japan. Some parents and coaches believe it strengthens the Athletes, enabling them to work harder. Ignorance.
In 2012, another 17-year-old committed suicide after repeated abuse at the hands of his coach, the head coach of a Japanese Olympic women’s team, also resigned a month later, when she could no longer understand why the cases of abuse were in such high rate.
Child abuse is known to be illegal in Japan and that the government had enacted a ban on corporal punishment this year. They have tried to help these children to voice out their concerns through a mechanism that are not exactly accessible to some children yet, like reporting abuse through mail or fax
That’s why the cases of abuse are still rising. Coaches need proper training, and they need to change the mentality that a good athlete can only be made through intense training and abuse. Reporting mechanisms must be improved perpetrators and pedophiles must be arrested, fined, or jailed to serve as a deterrent to others.
Abuse does not only go on in sports, but the Asian movie and music industry is also breeding abusive trainers, managers, and even fans. Korean pop singers, actors, and actresses commit suicide at the slightest provocation. The mental health of these people should be examined. They should be given a break if they need to.
Nevertheless, cases of abuse have been recorded in the US and UK gymnastics as well. Gymnasts complain about being beaten, sexually abused, and body shamed by coaches and trainers. Some have even opted out of the sports because they could no longer stand the toxic environment. Some athletes have admitted to considering suicide many times.
The Human Rights Watch has encouraged the Japan sports council and JOC to use the upcoming Olympic events as a catalyst for change. They must make athletes feel safe about coming out to speak about their concerns.
Coaches and trainers must learn that inflicting pain on someone does not make them better. At least not all the time, someone being a better or a good athlete always comes from within, abuse cannot serve as a source of motivation. Motivation comes from within, and it comes from the good words of encouragement you give someone. Abuse is never the answer