Former Japanese athlete sought to head sports agency

Former Japanese athlete sought to head sports agency

The government intends to appoint a former athlete to head a sports agency it plans to establish for sports-related administration in October this year for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to sources.

The policy is aimed at implementing projects for the 2020 Games that are more in-line with the current actual situation in the sports world, the sources said.

As an affiliated entity of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the sports agency will control all sports-related government budgets in an integrated manner. The agency will be in charge of fostering top-level Japanese athletes, promoting sports in local communities and making international contributions in sports fields.

A bill to revise a law for the establishment of the ministry will be submitted to the ordinary Diet session, to be convened on Jan. 26. The government plans to start the new agency with a staff of about 120, according to the sources.

Concerning the first head of the new agency, the government will select candidates from among former athletes, such as Olympic medalists with substantial experience in international competitions, not politicians or senior officials of the education ministry.

By appointing a top-level athlete who is familiar with the realities of the sports world, the government expects that the new agency will take the initiative in strategically fostering athletes, the sources said.

The core of the new agency's organizational structure will comprise officials from the education ministry's Sports and Youth Bureau. The agency's staff will also include members of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in charge of health promotion projects; the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in charge of construction and improvement of sports facilities; the Foreign Ministry in charge of international contribution projects in sports fields; and the private sector.

Initially, the government planned to launch the new agency in April this year. But the plan was postponed because the education minister, Hakubun Shimomura, judged that consent from other relevant ministries and agencies had not been obtained over how to distribute staff, budgets and authorities to the sports agency.

To avoid opposition from other ministries and agencies, projects of those ministries and agencies will not be transferred to the sports agency, except for projects related to disabled athletes that have already been transferred to the education ministry from the health ministry.

Ministries and agencies concerned will only send staff to the new agency to strengthen collaboration with it.

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