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Japan go from prostitutes to podium at Asian Games

Ikee wins women’s 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly

JAKARTA: Gold medallist Japan’s Rikako Ikee celebrates during the victory ceremony of the women’s 100m freestyle swimming event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta yesterday. – AFP

JAKARTA: Teenager Rikako Ikee spearheaded a golden night for Japan’s swimmers after the expulsion of four basketball players for using prostitutes rocked the Japanese team at the Asian Games yesterday.

Ikee, 18, won the women’s 100m freestyle and the 50m butterfly, Kanako Watanabe took women’s 200m breaststroke gold and Japan’s men beat Sun Yang’s China in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Sun, China’s fearsome triple Olympic champion, won the Games’ inaugural 800m freestyle title but Japan still outshone their fierce Asian swimming rivals by four gold medals to three.

It provided a positive end to the day for Japan, who will host the next Olympics in 2020, after the four basketball players were caught paying for sex in a Jakarta red light district.

Yuya Nagayoshi, Takuya Hashimoto, Takuma Sato and Keita Imamura were spotted in the area wearing team jerseys and “paid for the services of prostitutes”, chef de mission Yasuhiro Yamashita said, according to Kyodo news agency.

“I just feel a sense of shame,” Japan’s chef de mission Yasuhiro Yamashita told reporters. “We deeply apologise and intend to give the athletes thorough guidance from now on.”

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, the Games’ governing body, said the incident would serve as a warning to other athletes. “At the end of the day, representing your country isn’t only about winning medals,” he said.

Elsewhere on day two, Indonesia had a double success in the mountain biking competition when Tiara Andini Prastika won the women’s downhill and Khoiful Mukhib grabbed the men’s gold medal.

In front of noisy crowds, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting upset Kidambi Srikanth 23-21, 20-22, 21-10 as Indonesia beat India 3-1 to set up a men’s team badminton semi-final against Japan. Indonesia’s women will also face Japan in the badminton semi-finals after their 3-1 victory over South Korea. The winner will play China or Thailand in the final.

China’s Yang Haoran and Zhao Ruozhu were crowned the men’s and women’s 10m air rifle champions, both with Games record scores, and their team-mate Zhang Xinqiu jumped for joy when she edged South Korea’s Kang Gee-eun to win the women’s trap.

“I felt like all my hard work had finally paid off,” she said with a beaming smile. “I was so excited and emotional.” North Korea won their first two gold medals of the Games when former Olympic champion Om Yun Chol lifted a total of 287kg in the men’s 56kg category and Ri Song Gum won the women’s 48kg.

Lin Chaopan won the men’s all-around gymnastics title as China reached 15 gold medals late on day two, ahead of Japan on eight and South Korea’s five. – AFP

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