Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kawauchi Turns Down Federation Support Grant in Unprecedented Move, Saying, "You Don't Need Five Million Yen of Support in Running"

translated by Brett Larner

Civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (26, Saitama Pref. Gov't) is in Seoul, South Korea for the Mar. 17 Seoul International Marathon.  If he achieves his goal of improving his PB to 2:07 he is likely to be elevated to the Japanese Federation's "silver" level, receiving up to 5 million yen [~$50,000 USD] in support stipends for the coming year.  However, Kawauchi has indicated that he will turn down the money.  "I don't need it," he said.  He also indicated that he had earlier returned an individual support grant from the Japan Sports Promotion Center (JSC), currently embroiled in a developing financial scandal in judo.

Kawauchi is happy to have whatever money he wins at races based entirely on his results.  Crossing the sea in anticipation of running on one of the fastest courses in the world, at Kimpo Airport Kawauchi said with resolution, "I came here to run 2:07."  But he is indifferent to how much money that will get him.

Under the Federation's updated athlete support program, grants of up to 10 million yen [~$100,000 USD] per year are provided beginning at the start of the fiscal year in April.  Despite running a 2:08:15 course record to win February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Kawauchi has not yet been added to the 2013-14 roster, while at the same time Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), who ran 2:08:00 for 4th at February's Tokyo Marathon, has been certified as a silver athlete and will receive up to 5 million yen in support.  If he runs 2:07 the chances are very high that Kawauchi will also be certified.  However, Kawauchi indicated that he has unprecedented intentions, saying, "It still depends on how I do tomorrow, but if I am certified I will turn it down.  It's totally unnecessary."

As mentioned, Kawauchi has already returned his support stipend from the JSC.  This grant went into effect in April, 2011, with 300,000 yen [$3,000] paid quarterly.  By February last year 900,000 yen had been paid, but Kawauchi had not used any of it.  "It was useless," he said.  "They said, 'You don't have to show receipts for how you use this money,' but I'm not going to accept money I can't use."  In March last year he submitted an unprecedented 'Grant Refusal Notice,' transferring the unused 900,000 yen back to the JSC's bank account.

For a person of such incorruptible integrity, the financial scandal in the judo world is a source of great dismay.  "It's terrible.  Unbelievable.  Saying the money is for training support and just using it to go out eating and drinking..."  This past year Kawauchi received 1,500,000 yen [~$15,000 USD] in support stipends from the Federation, but of that he used a total of only 500,000 yen [~$5,000 USD], mostly to pay for running shoes and other gear.  Continuing to challenge the common sense of the world he is in and casting a stone at those who run for money, the salaried civil servant runner says, "We don't need money in athletics."

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