Tokyo Olympics head Yoshiro Mori critical of Mao Asada's performance

February 21, 2014

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The head of Tokyo's 2020 Olympic organizing committee has criticized Japanese figure skater Mao Asada's performance in the women's short program at the Sochi Olympics.

The two-time world champion finished 16th in the short program on Feb. 19 after falling on her opening triple axel. Asada was a silver medalist at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she finished second to South Korea's Kim Yuna.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who became the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee's chairman last month, said Asada has a habit of "always falling at the most critical time" of a competition.

He blamed Asada's short program shortcomings on her participation in the earlier team event at Sochi.

Asada performed sensationally in the free skate on Feb. 20, however. She landed her trademark triple axel and wound up with a season's best of 142.71. She finished sixth overall.

"I thought I could do it," Asada said through a translator. "I tried my best, and everything went according to practice."

While in office, Mori had a reputation for making contentious comments. And his appointment to the Tokyo 2020 committee was criticized by some analysts who believe the 76-year-old former prime minister is too old to hold such a position.

Asada was selected for the inaugural team competition in the hope Japan would win a medal, but she also fell on the triple axel and Japan placed fifth.

"We shouldn't have taken part in the team competition," Mori said. "The psychological damage (Asada) incurred must have remained," for the short program.

Mori was also critical of Japanese ice dancers Chris and Cathy Reed, who were born in the United States but compete for Japan.

"They live in America," Mori said. "Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team."

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, second from left, poses with key executives involved in hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 24. (Wataru Sekita)

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, second from left, poses with key executives involved in hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 24. (Wataru Sekita)

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  • Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, second from left, poses with key executives involved in hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 24. (Wataru Sekita)

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