With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games only 4 months away, yet another British sports organisation has faced allegations of bullying.
Words by Charlie Batten & Max Kilham
As per the BBC, British Judo has joined the long list UK Olympic sports teams facing reports of bullying in what is becoming an increasingly worrying trend.
It is unclear as to who the bullying allegations are directed to but British Judo have said they are “completing an investigation into allegations that have been raised” and that they would not comment further “due to it being an ongoing process”.
This all follows UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger statement last year that they would “identify, confront and eradicate” all bullying and abuse in British sport after it was found 10% of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes had witnessed or received “unacceptable behaviour. The survey also found that less than half of athletes felt there were consequences for behaving badly.
UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday also spoke on the issue by saying “my experience leads me to believe that the vast majority of people in high-performance sport are doing the right thing,”
“But it seems that there are some people who are not, so let me be clear and state this categorically.
“For anyone that doesn’t want to adhere to the highest standards of ethics and integrity my message is clear – you are not welcome in Olympic and Paralympic sport.”
The Olympic games are on the horizon and these claims have added to the variety of bullying accusations within UK sport in recent years.
In a 2017 report, British cycling was found to have ‘lacked good governance’ as a result of the reports investigation into claims of bullying.
Other sports, such as Canoeing and bobsleigh, have also faced bullying allegations.
This is not the first time that British Judo have come under fire in recent memory. As per the BBC, the organisation was on the end of a cutting review from UK Sport in 2016. A contentious sponsorship dispute with the European Judo Union resulted in the stripping of British Judo’s right to host the 2015 European Judo Championships, which were due to be held in Glasgow.
These recent allegations will be a concern for UK Sport, with the consistent accusations over recent years disturbing.
In September 2020, the Guardian reported that UK Sport had opened an investigation into new bullying and racism claims within UK Bobsleigh.
This came after a Guardian report in 2017, which found that the then head coach of British Bobsleigh, Lee Johnston, had stated in 2013 that: ‘black drivers do not make good bobsleigh drivers.’
The allegations put to British Judo is the latest example of apparent misconduct within professional British sporting organisations.
In terms of Tokyo funding figures, judo sits on £7.35m, as per UK Sport. Whilst this is one of the more poorly funded sports ahead of the Olympics, it still beats out other sports such as archery and badminton.
UK Sport’s Munday has threatened funding cuts if behaviour does not improve within elite sport in the UK. However, Munday highlighted that cuts could pose dramatic effects on individual athletes. As per the Guardian, Grainger had this to say:
“We do have the ultimate power of taking money away.
“We won’t shy away if we feel that is the requirement. The important thing is how we can help sports to learn and improve.
“What we have to be really conscious of, if we take money away from the sport, is that ultimately potentially we are directly impacting on the athletes themselves.”
Judo has been relatively successful during it’s time in the Olympics. As per the BBC, Judo was first introduced to the games in 1964. Since then Judo athletes have won 18 Olympic medals. This has included Neil Adams, who won silver medals at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, and Karina Bryant, who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics.
It remains to be seen as to whether the investigation by British Judo will find these claims to be true. The allegations are disturbing nonetheless and continues the worrisome trend of bullying accusations within professional British sport.