Amid baseball’s consideration for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and just days from the start of Japan’s World Series, the sport has been hit with a Japanese baseball gambling scandal.
In big Japan gambling news, Nippon Professional Baseball announced yesterday that two more pitchers from the country’s most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants, have been discovered betting on professional baseball. This follows news from two weeks ago, in which Giants pitcher Satoshi Fukuda was found betting on his team’s games in addition to Major League Baseball. Because Fukuda did not play last season, he was not found guilty of fixing games, but his gambling still violates the charter of the NPB.
Fellow pitchers Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto were similarly accused of gambling on baseball, but not of fixing games. According to the Giants, Kasahara bet on 10 professional baseball games between April and October last year, while Matsumoto bet on more than 10 games between June and October last year, and Fukuda bet on 10 NPB games and 10 major league games.
As gambling on pro sports is illegal, police have become involved and the Giants have launched an investigation. Says NPB commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki of the Japanese baseball gambling scandal: “This is extremely regrettable. Baseball holds a special place thanks to the support it has had for a long time from many fans.”
Japanese baseball gambling scandal does not mean exclusion of sport from Tokyo 2020 Olympics
The Japanese baseball gambling scandal is incredibly untimely due to the status of the sport’s consideration for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Both baseball and softball have been excluded from the Olympics since 2008, and their joint bid to be part of the 2020 Olympics was considered a certainty because of the wild popularity both sports enjoy in Japan.
International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates assures baseball enthusiasts that the Japanese baseball gambling scandal and Japan gambling laws won’t harm the sport’s bid. “This is a problem that is frowned on in sports in Japan and it’s not going to effect the decision to be taken with baseball,” says Coates.