About a controversy that arose online during WYYC2023

A small controversy occurred during the event, involving National Yo-Yo Master Takahiko Hasegawa reporting on social media that he was “banned” from the event. The IYYF feels this requires some explaining, although it’s impossible for us to provide all context that led to the controversy. IYYF director Steve Brown, being a neutral party on-site, spent several weeks attempting to fully understand the situation and reports his understanding of it below:

Due to disagreements between Mr. Hasegawa and the Japan Yo-Yo Federation stemming from Mr. Hasegawa’s participation on the organizing committee for the World Yo-Yo Contest 2015 in Tokyo, Mr. Hasegawa has not attended any JYYF-organized events since 2015. He has not been formally banned from attending or sponsoring such events, and until 2021 the JYYF reports that it continued to send sponsorship proposals to Mr. Hasegawa in order to give him the option of supporting and participating in these events. According to the JYYF, Mr. Hasegawa declined to answer these proposals and declined to attend the events as either a sponsor, contestant or spectator. In conversation with Mr. Hasegawa, the language barrier made it unclear whether he acknowledged receiving these invitations from the JYYF, as he spoke differently about it during different parts of the conversation.

As a result of this discord, there were private, internal conversations among JYYF board members expressing concern that Mr. Hasegawa would attend the 2023 World Yo-Yo Contest and attempt to use this event to actively protest the JYYF or disrupt the event. These conversations were private and internal and no official consensus or course of action was reached as a result of them.

Mr. Hasegawa found out about the concerns raised in these conversations by an event staff member who is very close to Mr. Hasegawa, causing Mr. Hasegawa considerable distress. He misinterpreted these concerns as official word or action, and took to social media to express his frustration and anger at being “banned” from the event. There are official processes, both within the JYYF and IYYF, for formally banning someone from attending any events organized by these bodies, but none of these official actions were ever taken by either organization. Mr. Hasegawa made no attempt to directly contact members of the IYYF or JYYF for clarification before making his public declarations, and members of both organizations were otherwise occupied running the event and did not have time to resolve this dispute during the event itself.

Regardless of the inability or unwillingness of Mr. Hasegawa and the JYYF to work together, no official ban has been issued to date. Mr. Hasegawa was not banned from the World Yo-Yo Contest 2023 and is also not banned from any future IYYF events at this time.

Post-event, I met with members of the JYYF Board as well as Mr. Hasegawa (separately) to attempt to understand the full nature of the relationship between the JYYF and Mr. Hasegawa, and the information above is accurate to the best of my knowledge. The IYYF has neither the resources nor responsibility to mediate disagreements between member organizations and private individuals, but due to this disagreement taking place during an event the IYYF was overseeing, my involvement to at least understand this dispute seemed necessary.

I hope that all parties involved can find an amicable resolution in the future, or at the very least not disrupt future contests with public disagreements.