Japan, Russia Still Reeling from Poor Olympic Showing

      March 05, 2010 12:11

      Japan and Russia are still trying to come to terms with their poor showing in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

      Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Thursday pointed out that Korea operates a pension system for Olympic medalists and pledged to give serious thought to what Tokyo can do in that line. He was responding to rebukes from lawmakers about lack of government support for athletes.

      Tatsuo Kawabata, the minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun the same day as promising to "lay a framework of sports strategies and consider giving tax benefits to companies that support athletes."

      Earlier, ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Mitsuru Sakurai told senior government officials, "Japan is the only one advanced country that failed to win a gold medal. Korean and Japanese athletes are of nearly the same build, but the number of medals they won was quite different." He added Japan should learn from Korea's national sport strategy. Japan won a mere three silver and two bronze medals in the winter Olympics in Vancouver.

      In Russia, a top sports official took the fall for Russia's lackluster performance. Leonid Tyagachev, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, resigned Wednesday, two days after President Dmitry Medvedev told him to take responsibility for the poor showing.

      Russia, a traditional winter sports powerhouse, saw its poorest performance since 1992 with three gold, five silver and seven bronze medals in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

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