Eiichi Kawatei was awarded the Olympic Order of Merit at the Japan Open Tennis Championships at the weekend. The presentation party included ITF President and IOC Member Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the Japan National Olympic Committee and IOC Member Tsunekazu Takeda, and CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee Masato Mizuno. The Olympic Order is the highest award of the Olympic Movement recognising work in the cause of sport or the Olympic Movement.
Kawatei has devoted his whole life to his sport and to the values of sport. First as a player in the Japanese National Championships, and as Captain of his University team in the mid 50s, to which he returned as a coach a few years later, then off the court as a sports administrator.
He is considered the father of tennis in Asia, serving for 25 years in the Asian Tennis Federation as President and Secretary General. Kawatei has also been highly active with the International Tennis Federation, having served for 22 years on the ITF Board of Directors and on many ITF Committees. In 2005 he was officially named an ITF Honorary Life Vice President.
Kawatei has also been dedicated to the Olympic Movement, both as a Vice President and now as an Honorary Member of the Japanese Olympic Committee, and as one of the most active members of the ITF Olympic Committee. He was a Technical Delegate at six Olympic Tennis Events from Seoul in 1988 to Beijing in 2008.