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Russian gangs set sights on 2020 Olympic opportunities


The latest threat to the Rio de Janiero Olympics, scheduled to begin on August 5, is the threat of serious birth defects and other diseases caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

And what does this bode for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020? Nikkan Gendai (Jan 21) doesn't know. Instead, it's got its eye on a completely different type of pestilence: Russian-based organized crime groups that it says are already drooling over the prospects of a lucrative earnings in the period leading up to, and during, the Tokyo Olympic games.

Some 5,000 to 6,000 Russian criminal gangs are said to be operating, within the boundaries of the Russian republic as well as abroad. One of their ways of generating profits has been match-fixing in tennis and other professional sports.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has tied up with the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) and cracked down vigorously on drugs, resulting in Russia last November being ruled in breach of WADA codes, along with Argentina, Ukraine, Bolivia, Andorra and Israel. The crackdown is said to have cut substantially into gang revenues.

With plans apace for Japan to raise its consumption tax to 10% from April 2017, sports is the sole sector where strong growth is likely to continue. Last year, the government increased sports-related outlays in fiscal 2016 by an additional 3.4 billion yen, to reach an all-time high of 32.4 billion yen. The distribution of funding will be determined by the Japan Sports Council (JSC) and other groups, and -- reflecting the government's determination to grab as many medals as possible in the events, it is expected that some top athletes will be eligible to receive monthly stipends of 2 million yen and above, making them an attractive target for organized crime.

The Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) has reportedly set its sights on the national team taking between 25 to 30 gold medals -- achieving third place overall in the medal standings -- as well as athletes realizing eighth place or higher in a total of 28 events, including judo, swimming, wrestling and others.

"What's scary," says sports writer Kensaku Kudo, "is that in the elimination events held before the games, the sports media whips the public into a frenzy over Japan's medal prospects, putting heavy pressure on the athletes and their trainers. Those who are mentally tough will use those pressures as a springboard. But there's nothing strange about others caving into the pressure and turning to performance-enhancing drugs."

Nikkan Gendai recalls the unhappy fate of Olympic marathon runner Kokichi Tsuburaya, who "only" received a bronze medal in the 1964 Tokyo Games. He afterwards remarked to a Japanese teammate, "I committed an inexcusable blunder in front of the Japanese people. I have to make amends by running and hoisting the Hinomaru flag in the next Olympics, in Mexico." Unable to train for the upcoming games due to lower back problems, Tsuburaya committed suicide in February 1968. He was 27 years old.

The routes for illegal doping and other drug use seldom involve direct contacts between athletes and suppliers. Typically, the coaches or trainers administer them to their trusting wards as "supplements" -- as was the case with Tyson Gay, who had his silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics rescinded over use of a banned substance, the alleged source of which was his coach.

Aware of the heavy pressure on national teams to take medals, Russian gangsters are expected to focus on hawking their illegal goods to coaches and trainers. And considering that test specimens following events are retained for 10 years, positive diagnoses might not be detected until several years after the fact. When and if that happens, the untainted image enjoyed up to now by Japan's athletes might be tarnished in one fell swoop.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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What a fabulous word salad. Thanks; fulfilled my daily roughage requirement with this one article.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I guess they aren't worried about the Japanese-government connected gangs (construction companies) that will take their usual siphon off the billions of dollars from this Olympic-sized boondoggle.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

After reading the article about how well Japan's going to do in the Olympics due to Russian athletes being banned for the use of PEDs, reading this article makes the whole thing just hilarious.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Seems to be a pro increase the tax rate so the Olympians will do better ad. It would be foolish for any of these athletes to take a "banned" substance. Many drugs that a common person can utilize these athletes cannot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How dare the Russians try to muscle in on good healthy traditional Japanese gangster territory?

I'm sure the vice chairman of the JOC will help domestic industry to defend their turf.


6 ( +8 / -2 )

thanks Warwick that was a great article. I never know that the yakuza don,t do Drugs. THere a opening for a criminal gang to fill. Or will the yakuza defend their turf and code from the drug trade ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Match fixing and PED'S are the domain of Russian gangs, not Japanese gangsters. Will the Yakuza step in to fill the void? My guess is they will stay with what they traditionally know best, construction, prostitution, etc.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What is the relationship between the first and second paragraphs - that they're both word soup?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is worst article I've ever read.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I couldn't make sense of this article. It might help if the writer tried working from an outline in the future.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) has reportedly set its sights on the national team taking between 25 to 30 gold >medals—achieving third place overall in the medal standings

Is this even realistic? Japan would have to blow past strong performers Germany and UK, and then have one of the big three powerhouses, US, Russia and China, stumble big time for it to happen.

I guess if all 8 planets, plus Pluto align, it might happen.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What? Huh? Nani?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It might help if the writer tried working from an outline in the future.

That would take some doing, since it's a translation of an article appearing in the Japanese-language newspaper Nikkan Gendai.

2 ( +3 / -1 )


I would rather ask what is the relationship between ALL the paragraphs? looks like an unfinished article draft with pieces of info scattered all around.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't forget that the sports officials, athletes, and fans will need a great many male and female prostitutes and areas to gamble, party drugs, pornography, and what not as well. This goes back to the original Olympics in Ancient and Classical Greece, so it is a time honored tradition. So plenty of chances for the various gangs to make a financial killing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wow! Interesting!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There wasn't one shred of evidence linking Russian involvement to Brazil. In fact I considered it to be a rather racist assertion-there are plenty of indigenous criminal gangs in Brazil,Japan,the US etc

All in all a waste of my life to have read the article....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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