Shoichi Sugiyama is a Tokyo-based lawyer and member of the managing committee of the Tokyo 2020 pro bono lawyers services project. A specialist in sports law with Field-R Law Offices in Tokyo, he previously worked in The Japan Sports Arbitration Agency and was a visiting scholar focused on sports law at the University of Zurich.  He currently lectures in sports law in Japan at Chuo University, Nihon University and Keio University, and is an active member of the Daini Tokyo Bar Association Law Policy Committee on Sports Law and the Japan Sports Law Association.

In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Sugiyama explains how pro bono lawyers are helping make the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics a reality.

You’re a member of the managing committee for the Tokyo 2020 pro bono lawyers services project. How was the project established and what are its’ objectives?

During the Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) in Lausanne establishes the Ad Hoc Division and the Anti-Doping Division at the Olympic host city. Before the Ad Hoc Division, the arbitral awards are in principle rendered within 24 hours as of the application and before the Anti-Doping Division within 24 hours as of hearing. To proceed with arbitration proceedings before these divisions effectively and smoothly, assistance by lawyers in the host country is indispensable because national teams do not necessarily accompany their counsels to the host city.

Thus, the managing committee for the Tokyo 2020 pro bono lawyers services project provides pro bono representation services and legal advice to athletes, officials and NOCs who come to Japan during Olympics and Paralympics Games. The objective of this project is to contribute to the smooth operation of the Games by providing free and useful assistance.

During the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, the pro bono representation services and legal advice was organized by barristers’ chambers, solicitors’ law firms and individual practitioners. Also, during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, the Rio de Janeiro Bar Association organized the pro bono lawyers’ representation services before the Ad Hoc Division and the Anti-Doping Division. Thus, pro bono legal services by lawyers in the host country is a legacy initiative in the Olympics and Paralympics.

What types of services does the 2020 Tokyo project provide?

We provide two services. One is the advocacy service, which provides free legal assistance before the Ad Hoc Division and Anti-Doping Division. The other is the general consultation service, which provides legal advice (including immigration law, criminal law, civil law and sports law) to athletes, officials and NOCs.

If athletes, officials and NOCs need to be supported by the host country’s lawyers, they can request assistance via the secretary office of the committee.

In total, over 60 lawyers have applied for each section (Advocacy section and General consultation section). We operate a rota system so that we can provide 24 hour services to athletes, officials and NOCs. The candidate lawyers in the advocacy section are taking courses on jurisprudence and procedure of the Ad Hoc Division and Anti-Doping Division. The candidate lawyers in the general consultation section are composed of experienced lawyers on each legal field.

We would be grateful if we can contribute to the smooth operation of the Games through this project.

What are the legal challenges and issues associated with hosting an Olympics and Paralympic Games?  Are there any legal challenges or issues that are unique to Tokyo 2020?

Since September 2013, when it was decided that Japan would host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, one big issue has been how to implement the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and its subsidiary IOC Anti-Doping Rules, in order to prevent possible violations in the 2020 Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have requested Japan build an intelligence scheme in the fight against doping.

One of the schemes is the criminalization of anti-doping violations and compulsory measures against doping offenders. However, the Task Force for Building and Strengthening the Anti-Doping System, established in 2014 did not see the need to criminalize doping in Japan at present. It rather advised creating a system for information exchange between concerned parties.

In response, on October 1, 2018 “the Act on the Promotion of Anti-Doping Activities in Sport” (“PADASA”) was enacted. The act is the first legislation on anti-doping ever in Japan and it stipulates that it is mandatory for the Japanese government to review measures for the prevention of doping in sport and take necessary measures based upon the results thereof.

How will information exchange work during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics?

Though the PADASA itself does not stipulate any criminal provisions, it is intend to realize the sharing information between the relevant agencies through existing privacy information acts in Japan. The relevant ministry, the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, and other relevant agencies are now discussing practical means of information sharing during the 2020 Games.

I believe that the information sharing system will be ready by the time of the opening of Tokyo 2020.

Posted by Asia Law Portal

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