Last month we reported how Japanese head coach Norimasa Hirai had bowed out as leader of the nation’s squad headed to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Now, Hirai has been handed a suspension by the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF).
Following an ethics committee and executive board meeting held in Tokyo today, the JASF decided to suspend Hirai for six months. The decision came after Hirai’s ‘problematic’ behavior following the Japanese team’s lackluster results at this year’s World Championships in Fukuoka.
With just two bronze medals earned by the host nation’s swimmers, Hirai was vocal on social media about strained relations between JASF and athletes, disagreeing with the organization on how the squad can be repaired and strengthened moving forward. We reported that Hirai also left the World Championships early, bypassing a mandatory meeting with the JASF in Fukuoka.
As a result, the committee found Hirai to be in violation of the national team’s code of conduct, with Hirai now off deck through February 2024. That means the one-time coach of Olympic champions Kosuke Kitajima and Kosuke Hagino will not be on deck for this year’s World Aquatics World Cup Series as well as next year’s World Championships which are slated for February in Doha.
JASF Senior Managing Director Hidesumi Kaneko stated today, “The decision was made after thorough consultation with legal counsel, as well as Hirai’s explanation and hearing.
“(Mr. Hirai) honestly said that he regretted his fault for posting on SNS [social media] and leaving the championships.” (Yahoo! Japan)