Four Japan athletes booted from Asian Games in prostitute scandal

The Asian Games has been stricken by its first major scandal. (Reuters pic)

JAKARTA: Four Japanese basketball players have been sent home from the Asian Games in disgrace for allegedly paying prostitutes for sex, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) said on Monday.

The players were spotted in a notorious red-light district of Jakarta in their national jerseys on Wednesday night, JOC officials told a press conference, saying the quartet had been sent back immediately.

News that Yuya Nagayoshi, Takuya Hashimoto, Takuma Satō, and Keita Imamura had been booted out will come as a major embarrassment for Japan, who were forced to send a swimmer home from the last Asian Games in 2014 for stealing a journalist’s camera.

“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.”

The basketball players had dinner after leaving the Games village and are believed to have been solicited by touts on the street to go to a hotel with women, Yamashita added.

“I would like to humbly apologise to the Japanese public, the JOC and everyone who supports basketball for this deplorable incident,” Japan basketball chief Yuko Mitsuya said in a statement.

“We will decide on the appropriate punishment for the four players once we have heard all the facts. We need to work harder to make sure this kind of scandal does not happen again.”

Japanese swimmer Naoya Tomita was expelled from the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, four years ago after being caught on video stealing a journalist’s camera.