The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Japanese Olympic swimmer was caught having an affair. He’s now suspended for the rest of 2020.

Daiya Seto was in a happier mood after winning the 400-meter individual medley at a meet in December. (John Locher/AP)
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The Japan Swimming Federation has suspended Daiya Seto, one of the world’s top swimmers, for the rest of the year after a gossip magazine published evidence that he was having an extramarital affair.

Seto, who won a bronze medal in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2016 Rio Olympics and is the current world champion in that event and the 200-meter IM, has apologized multiple times after a tabloid published a story last month detailed how the married father of two had visited a “love hotel” — a hotel that offers stays of as short as a few hours — with a woman who was not his wife.

“I intend to sincerely give my full attention to swimming … so that I may regain the trust of my family, whom I hurt deeply with my irresponsible behavior, and regain the acceptance of my family as well as all of you as a swimmer,” Seto said in a statement released through his management company on Tuesday.

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Seto, 26, admitted to the affair and resigned as captain of Japan’s Olympic swimming team last month after the magazine published the story. He still will be able to swim in next year’s Tokyo Olympics and already has qualified by virtue of the world championships he won in 2019. However, he has lost sponsorship deals with the Japanese Olympic Committee and All Nippon Airways.

Japanese sporting officials have previously issued strict punishments to athletes who, in their eyes, have tarnished the country’s honor. In 2014, the Japan Swimming Federation suspended Naoya Tomita — a world short-course breaststroke champion — for 17 months after he was caught stealing a professional photographer’s camera from the pool deck at the 2014 Asian Games.

At the Asian Games in Jakarta four years later, four members of the Japanese men’s basketball team were sent home after checking into a hotel with four women deemed to be prostitutes. The players later were suspended from competition for one year.

In 2018, the Japanese Canoe Federation suspended kayaker Yasuhiro Suzuki for eight years after he admitted to spiking an opponent’s drink with anabolic steroids in an attempt to get him to fail a drug test. Two years earlier, Olympic badminton player Kenichi Tago was kicked off the national team after losing nearly $100,000 at illegal casinos in Japan, where most forms of gambling are prohibited.

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