sports

Rabid Japanese fans label athletes who don’t bring home a medal 'tax thieves'

48 Comments
By Casey Baseel

With Yuzuru Hanyu taking home Japan’s first-ever gold medal in men’s figure skating, there’s a chance the country’s rabid sports fans will back off on the intense pressure they’ve been placing on the nation’s Olympic team. That’s sure to be a weight off the shoulders of the athletes themselves, as well as former Olympiad Dai Tamesue, who recently took so-called fans of the Japanese team to task for calling athletes who fail to reach the podium parasites.

Up until recently, Japan had enjoyed limited success at the Olympic Games. The country’s medal count stagnated through most of the 1980s and '90s, with the exception of a bump at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles from which the always competitive Soviet team was absent.

Things started to pick up in the new millennium, as Japan earned a then-high 37 medals at Athens, followed by another strong performance in Beijing, and capped with its best performance yet in London, where the country medaled 38 times.

But Japanese athletes have been building expectations along with momentum. The Winter Games tend to be a tougher challenge for Japan, and the only time it’s reached double-digits in Winter medals was when it benefitted from the home country advantage at the 1998 Nagano Games. Nonetheless, pre-competition interviews with Japanese athletes routinely end with the reporter earnestly imploring, “Please get a medal.”

Before Hanyu’s figure skating win, some of the biggest stories from Sochi in the Japanese media were the near-misses that kept Japanese athletes off the podium. Veteran moguls skier Aiko Uemura seemed assured a medal when she captured the top spot in her event with only three athletes left to compete, only to see herself passed up by all of them.

Ski jumper Sara Takanashi also ended up with a so close yet so far away fourth place finish. Frustrated by results such as these, some Japanese sports fans decided that even if they couldn’t say something nice, they were still going to say something, airing the following grievances online.

-- “Are they just there to have fun?” -- “Where do they get off using our tax money for a vacation?” -- “If you get asked for a comment after you don’t win, don’t you know the first thing out of your mouth is supposed to be, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t get a medal?’” -- “Athletes who don’t win medals are tax thieves.” -- “Why are we wasting our tax money on athletes who don’t win and have no class?”

On the one hand, this attitude is partly tied into Japanese cultural values such as responsibility and effort. As an island nation, Japan often sees itself as separate from the rest of the world, and prominent citizens who spend a moment in the limelight abroad are generally held to be, and treated as, representatives of the nation and its society by the Japanese media. “Japan isn’t spending money to send athletes to the Games just so they can make nice memories for themselves,” stated respected author Tsuneyasu Takeda, who is also the great-great grandson of Japan’s emperor Meiji.

That said, Japanese culture also emphasizes humility and not offending others, and some of these angry comments are just as over the line by Japanese standards as those of any other nation. One man has had enough of this sniping from the peanut gallery, though, and that’s Dai Tamesue. The Hiroshima native holds the Japanese record for the 400-meter hurdles, and was part of Japan’s Olympic track team in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

The 35-year-old Tamesue, who has retired from track and now serves as a sports analyst, is disappointed in fans for leveling such cutting criticisms at the Japanese athletes. The former hurdler himself has no medals to show for his three trips to the Olympics, and in his mind Japan’s lack of high-profile successes can be attributed to one simple thing: money.

“Out of the counties that disclose their Olympic team development expenditures, Japan sends the least,” Tamesue asserted while speaking to reporters from Nikkan Sports. For the Beijing Games, for example, reports show that Germany spent an amount equal to 27.4 billion yen and the U.S. 165 billion. Both host China and the UK kicked in 12 billion yen. Japan’s contribution to its Olympic team? A comparatively paltry 25 billion yen.

“We’re saying, ‘We can’t help you out financially, but you’d better make sure you go get a medal!’” Tamesue lamented. “It’s an unreasonable position to put our athletes in.”

Tamesue seems to have struck a chord with others who’ve grown tired of the angry rhetoric surrounding the Japanese team, and many voiced their approval of his stance online.

-- “I’m nodding in agreement so much I think my head is going to fall off.” -- “I think it’s time we, as a nation, did a better job of understanding the unreasonable expectation we’re placing on our fine athletes.” -- “Thank you for saying this, and please keep letting people know.”

Here’s hoping that the media and public take Tamesue’s words to heart, and that they serve as a reminder that while winning is nice, the best way to represent your country is with the dignity and sportsmanship that always comes from giving your utmost effort, regardless of the final standings.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japanese reporter’s luck worse than his preparation as he fails to recognize two medalists -- Nagano legislators propose banning morning practice for middle school athletes -- You Can Do It! A Collection of Inspirational Quotes and the Famous People Who Made Them

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


48 Comments
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Glad to hear someone is speaking up about this bullying.......! It is not only a money issue....The Olympics are about international peace and humanity, not simply about competition. The most important thing is to take part and do your best, not necessarily to win. This has always been regarded as the the true "Olympic Spirit"

The media in other countries are getting a lot of respect by sharing stories of the hard work and personal struggle of all the athletes -- especially those who do not win metals. I really enjoy these stories.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Can't help but suspect there are hints of ultranationalism in some of these critic's comments.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

"Tax thieves " ? I think 99 % of the J- politicians are much better at it than the Olympic athletes. I think champions, in fact :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

please mark out the word fans. Those people are not fans. Fans support their countrymen even if they win or lose.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Seems Japanese Olympic team supporters want to socialize the gain(medal count) and privatize the cost(of athletes training and development). They view medaling as something of a duty and then actually become indignant when the athletes dont win.

If medal count is so important for Japanese pride, then taxpayers should be prepared to spend more on proper Olympic training and development programs/facilities for athletes. You can`t have your cake and eat it too.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"Both host China and the UK kicked in 12 billion yen."

It's actually 120 billion yen as stated in the original article.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The Olympics came from ancient Greece, so they're steeped in the Western tradition of sportsmanship. The former East Bloc didn't really get it, and now nor do many of the Asian cultures that take a more ruthless approach to life.

5 ( +9 / -3 )

Maybe if Japanese were allowed to watch entire sports and events rather than just ones with Japanese in them they might start learning about the Olympic Spirit, and the human one

20 ( +23 / -4 )

Japan is not really a good sporting nation. Many 'fans'put unrealistic expetations on the athletes. They are up against the best in the world but most people don't seem to realize that. Lighten up., people.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Its sad when you have that arrogant mentality that you are the best that is until you see a different part of the world then you wake up and realized you have been brainwashed all your life.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

It's not just a few fans who are responsible for this pressure, it's the Japanese media as a whole. When Sara Takanashi, the ski jumper, came back to Japan after placing 4th, she held a press conference and said how sorry and filled with regret she was for letting everyone in Japan down. This girl is SEVENTEEN years old, and a leader and pioneer in her sport, and she is apologizing to a nation. And as they were reporting on it, no one in the media bothered to mention how deeply wrong the whole situation was.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Pity they don't have the same feelings about politicians, and NHK.

The Japanese media pumps the Japanese athletes up far too much, so the dummies who get all pent up over stuff like this get all upset that their "best in the world" athletes are shown to be mediocre at best on the world stage.

That ski jump girl is the prime example. Everyone on TV was talking like the gold medal was already her's weeks in advance! And she choked when it mattered. Probably because of all the expectation and pressure on her back home.

Maybe if Japanese were allowed to watch entire sports and events rather than just ones with Japanese in them they might start learning about the Olympic Spirit, and the human one

Exactly!! On saturday night they were supposed to show highlights of an earlier hockey game before the live USA-Russia game. But because a Japanese kid won the figure-skating gold, we had to watch that. Like it's not going to be on TV ever again.

They had biathlon on TV on saturday afternoon, and the announcer was rattling on about the Japanese woman taking part. I think over the space of 5 minutes I heard her name 20 times. No joke. And only saw a glimpse of her head for less than a second. Of course she came nowhere.

Bottom line: Japanese people are only interested in Japanese people. Japanese people who win especially.

8 ( +12 / -5 )

Another big challenge for Japan in the Olympics is that the two biggest sports here are baseball and soccer. Combined that with the fact that kids almost exclusively play a single sport year round, you lose out on alot of potential talent for the olympic sports due to soccer and especially baseball. Now to go one step further, its not unreasonable to assume that the best athletes more often than not end up playing the most popular sports .. they may not neccessarily thrive in baseball or soccer, but they will play them at the expense of an olympic sport, like say track and field.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japan needs a comprehensive plan to find what sport kids are talented in, and I dont mean baseball and soccer. my son is currently taking advanced swimming classes, mostly because his coach see his potential, big hands and feet (probably size 31-33cm when his finished growing). I was a very good swimmer during my teenage years, although not Olympic material. so Id say my son will inherit my talent. most important is he enjoys doing it, when he doesnt then it pointless in continuing

4 ( +4 / -0 )

How much does the government provide them for their training and expenses? The purpose is to compete, not necessarily to win.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dont we just love the sofa bound haters? Any athlete competing at an international level deserves our respect. Sad people with tiny minds can only blow hot air.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

'They had biathlon on TV on saturday afternoon, and the announcer was rattling on about the Japanese woman taking part. I think over the space of 5 minutes I heard her name 20 times. No joke. And only saw a glimpse of her head for less than a second. Of course she came nowhere.' It's pretty much the same with other sports I've watched. I've watched highlights of football games in the past involving Japanese players and sometimes not seen the goals scored in that game, or sometimes not even known the score, as highlights of good, bad or indifferent contributions from a Japanese player are deemed more important. Those who send these tirades from the couch can't be called sports fans. People who appreciate sport can see the excellence in top athletes of any nationality. Oh, and commentators screaming like demented banshees for a Japanese success don't help either.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

What a horrible thing to say! Those athletes that didn't got any medals are complete waste of national fund? How dare they say things like that. If I joined the Olympics and wasn't able to get a gold because there are more who were lucky or better, makes me a thief? Jeezusss! What do they think of athletes in Japan, robots? Guaranteed of a medal? WTH is that?! If Asada Mao fails to grab a medal this week, she should be ashamed of herself for not being competitive? Enough of this BS from old grumpy senseless fools! There is too much burden in the young already here in Japan. The young who is saught to be the future of this country are already carrying a lot of weight from soceity.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These 'fans' are the ones who are the parasites -- feeding off the athletes and demanding good results. What have THEY done for the nation? Some of those comments are just sickening, and the people that made them should not only bow deeply and apologize, but thank the athletes for doing their best regardless of the outcome (oh, and maybe get kicked in the teeth).

It is THEIR fault they have been let down, because they heap far too much pressure and expectation on the athletes, something that is a MAJOR problem with the media and the public here.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

For the Beijing Games, for example, reports show that Germany spent an amount equal to 27.4 billion yen and the U.S. 165 billion.

*This is a very misleading statement. The U.S. spends zero taxpayer dollars on the Olympic team:

The United States Olympic Committee is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation supported by generous Americans and American companies. Unlike many other nations, the United States Olympic Committee does not receive direct federal funding for athlete programs.*

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"The US spends zero taxpayer dollars on the Olympic team...."

You almost sound like that's something to be proud of.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@lucbrasi:

You are right, we are very proud that our Olympic team is supported voluntarily by citizens and corporations.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

techall: You are right, we are very proud that our Olympic team is supported voluntarily by citizens and corporations.

Indeed.

paulinusa: Can't help but suspect there are hints of ultranationalism in some of these critic's comments.

probie: The Japanese media pumps the Japanese athletes up far too much, so the dummies who get all pent up over stuff like this get all upset that their "best in the world" athletes are shown to be mediocre at best on the world stage.

Agreed with probie and paulinusa. I think Japan's trend of "looking inward" plays a part in this, as well as negative forms of nationalism. Notice how many "thumbs down" votes any comment on JT gets that refers to a Japanese athlete as anything less than The World's Undisputed Greatest. There's a difference between cheering for your home team (when watching TV / at the stadium) and having a discussion about sports with other people. The latter requires a level of objectivity.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Well obviously the vast majority of competitors don't win medals, so sure, Japan could leave anyone fairly certain to finish 5th or whatever at home. They'd become the absolute laughing stock of the sporting world, but I suppose they'd save enough money to pay about 5 seconds worth of the interest payments on government debt.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Japan needs a comprehensive plan to find what sport kids are talented in,"

They have kind of done that already: ski jumping. Before the Sapporo Games they studied what sport would give advantage to the Japanese, with their lighter, more compact bodies. One answer was jumping, owing to the wind resistance. And then the Japanese authorities, hungry for medals, promoted that sport like crazy.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

in the end, all must bow down to the glorious triad of North Korea, the USSR, and China. Give up your futile hopes, pig dogs, for your petty countries will never win a single medal anyway.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

You hear the same complaints as those mentioned in the article in Australia, especially recently and for the Summer Olympics. Every country has always had commentators like this, they are only more visible now because of the internet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This may bring on a barrage of thumbs down, but I really do not understand the folks who complain about NHK and the other Japanese media outlets focusing on the Japanese athletes. They are, after all, JAPANESE media outlets! They should focus on Japanese participants ! Ultranationalism, no, overzealous fans, maybe. Remember guys, the word fan is derived from "fanatic". That being said, I do agree however, with those who say that those same media outlets place an enormous amount of pressure on their athletes, causing them a burden.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I think these people are confusing athletes with public officials. Switch out the terms and they have got it right.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I remember not so long ago a famous paralympic athlete had to sell seminude calendar of herself just to raise money for training, there is literally no budget for actual athletes in Japan and tbh most training sport facilities are overpriced, poorly maintained and lacking ( unless its private ) . There is no proper place to even do cycling training here, and the only actual normal dedicated long run training place is a 2400m komazawa park... Anyone expecting anything at all from these athletes should just be thankful those people actually use their own money to compete.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

“I think it’s time we, as a nation, did a better job of understanding the unreasonable expectation we’re placing on our fine athletes.”

Truer words could've never been said. Those fans who badmouth the athletes failed to meet their expectations lack way too much empathy to say whatever. And the girl who placed in 4th could go for it again considering her age yet these people are speaking as if she's no longer needed to represent her country.

5 ( +4 / -0 )

Not "Oxygen thieves"????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While not winning a medal is unfortunate, winning a medal is worse. Once a Japanese athlete wins a medal, there is no need for actual coverage of real events any more, just continual re-showings of the moment of medal winning.

The programmers think, "we could show the Japanese viewers live events or highlights of top events, but instead we are going to show the moment our athlete won a bronze medal in a continuous loop, for the next two hours.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This just in: hard working Japanese athletes label rabid fans as losers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Classic, Dave, Classic ! ROFLMAO !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@techall

Well, heck. The less you spend on toning young bodies to compete in the Olympics, the more you've got to destroy young bodies in the Middle East. Win win, right?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Rabid? In Japan? Surely you mean passive-headline-reading frustrated people. Just opinions by some random drones. Nothing wrong with opinions now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

These beer-bellied Japanese netizens should lay off the abuse of their athletes, many of whom are just kids. I bet these guys are out of breath just waddling to the fridge, I would love to see them staring down a ski-jump - or a luge track - and see how tough it is!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ignorant Japanese fans label athletes who don’t bring home a medal 'tax thieves'" would have been a much better title for this article.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Please, somebody help me, I thought the subject was the Olympics. What he hell is lucabrasi talking about?????

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As an island nation, Japan often sees itself as separate from the rest of the world,

Duh, you think? That is why the term "Galapagos Effect" is used so often in connection with Japan. And, in the case of athletes, it creates unreal expectations since Japanese champions are often assumed to be "world beaters" because the J-media only covers Japanese events/championships.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

USA Olympic Committee has accumulated big money. Not only donations but huge TV ads income. USA Govt do not have money. Same Japan Inc, donate routinely to JOC Big donation. I wonder how much these hecklers pay tax. Surely not as much as Toyoda of Toyota, Ayukawa of Nissan, Iwasaki of Mitsubishi owner, I'd bet. . Busiess Tax is huge income for J Gvt but I am very sure they are not complaining.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's ironic, because the people saying this are probably NEETs, which means they are not paying any taxes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It does make me wonder why Japan doesn't win more medals though, after all they have this train, train, train mentality drilled into them from a young age. Sports club members practice everyday at junior high school right? Obviously I'm not just talking about winter sports here. When I belonged to football (soccer) club at junior high (secondary school) we trained once a week and for track and field, we were just told to train by ourselves (and I was still district cross country champion). All this dedication, but not much to show for it. Could it be lack of funding?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Asakur: Don't you know other countries do train train train mentality drilled into them from a young age?.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's a difference between cheering for your home team (when watching TV / at the stadium) and having a discussion about sports with other people. The latter requires a level of objectivity.

And maturity, I would add.

The Olympics are not about medal counts. They're about striving to do your best and be your best alongside and in comraderie with other athlete who are doing the same.

This greed for gold that characterizes so many of Japan's so-called fans cheapens and deminishes the inherent value of the Games immeasurably.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lack of funding? How about just admitting that sometimes, someone else is just better than you. Why can't people just give credit where credit is due, instead of blaming someone. It's something I noticed while growing up in Canada. When the lost, our athletes almost invariably said, "yeah, tried my best, but xxx was the better player today. " When I heard American athletes interviewed after a bad performance it was almost invariably, "yeah, I wasn't feeling my best today, I've got a cold, I pulled a hammie. " etc, etc, etc. as if, well if I was feeling my best that guy wouldn't have won because obviously I'm the best.

And if lack of funding is a huge factor in Japanese athletes performance, then the fans should just be happy that anyone is bringing home a medal at all.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I really dislike that elitist side of Japan. I remember hearing other stories about Japanese athletes not being treated well by their own and I think it's such a shame. It seems like such an inferiority complex.

I think Japan is doing pretty damn well too in comparison to other countries. Not too sure what they're complaining about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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