By Duncan Mackay in Tokyo

Frankie_Fredericks_at_OCA_meeting_Tokyo_July_12_2011July 13 - Calls for more athletes involvement in National Olympic Committees (NOCs) across Asia have been backed by International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Frankie Fredericks here.

Fredericks, the four-time Olympic silver medallist who is now the chairman of the IOC Athletes' Commission, was visiting the Japanese capital as a guest of the the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

His visit coincided with research from the OCA Athletes' Comission which revealed that only 17 of the 45 countries affiliated to the OCA had their own athletes' commission.

Yuko Arakida, a member of Japan's volleyball team that won the Olympic gold medal at Montreal in 1976 and who is now the chair of the OCA Athletes' Commission, claimed that their target was to have the athletes represented in all 45 countries.

They were urged to follow the example of South Korea, where there is a 14-member Athletes' Commission backed by the NOC and a dedicated website which gives details on a wide range of issues, including the rights of athletes and support for when they have retired. 

"When an athlete stops their career they have a big problem," said Fredericks.

"From one day to the next you go from being total hero to not being anybody anymore.

"You have to bridge the gap and go into society at large, and integrate into life after sport.

"We have 210 countries [sic] so there is not one solution."

Another topic high on the agenda during the meeting at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa was the lack of support for female athletes from many Asian NOCs. 

The research involved more than 3,500 athletes but over 65 per cent of the participants were male, which emphasised the under-representation of women.

The study also found that over 61 per cent of the participants lived in the city as opposed to villages or small towns, highlighting the need for sports authorities to promote sport in rural areas and not just in the major population densities.

The Athletes' Commission meeting was held on the eve of the OCA General Assembly, which is due to be held here tomorrow.

The focus switches from OCA to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) on Friday and Saturday (July 15 and 16), with a Symposium on Friday afternoon entitled "Sport in the 21st century and the challenge of global issues" - an event due to be attended by IOC President Jacques Rogge.

A centenary celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the JOC will take place on Saturday morning, rounding off a week of festivities in Tokyo for the Olympic Movement.

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