Photo: Takeo TanumaEiichi Kawatei (JPN) receives the Olympic Order of Merit
The ITF was saddened to learn of the death of Japan’s Eiichi Kawatei at the age of 79 after a long and distinguished career in tennis administration. He died on Saturday 3 August.
From Ashiya City, Japan, Kawatei was a leader in the development and promotion of the sport in Asia and worldwide for more than 40 years, supporting the ITF, national associations, players, officials, coaches and many international events.
Kawatei was highly active with the ITF for over 30 years, serving as a member of the Committee of Management, member of the ITF Board of Directors, Vice President, Chairman of the Junior Competitions Committee, and Honorary Life Vice President.
He was also a Technical Delegate for the Olympic Tennis Event each year since tennis’s return to the Games in 1988 and was nominated for that role at London 2012 but was unable to serve because of illness.
Kawatei was Tournament Director of the Federation Cup in 1981, 1985 and 1989, and of the Japan Open and Asian Open in 1977-86. He was a Japanese Olympic Committee member (1991-2003), Asian Tennis Federation President (1989-2003) and Secretary General (1978-89), and Japan Tennis Association Executive Board Member (1977-93) and Vice President (1993 onwards). He was the founder of the International Club of Japan.
Kawatei was recognised for his contributions to tennis by his peers many times. He was presented with the Olympic Order of Merit in 2012, the highest honour of the IOC, and was also the recipient of the Golden Olympic Ring Award, Chinese National Sports Federation Honorable Award; and the 2005 Golden Achievement Award, presented by the ITF and International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In addition to his administrative work, Kawatei was an active member of the international tennis media as a photographer and TV commentator, as well as contributing to numerous books and magazines as a journalist. As a player, Kawatei was a nationally ranked junior and played for Doshisha University, where he returned as coach.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “The tennis family lost an exceptional man on Saturday with the death of Eiichi Kawatei. His outstanding commitment to the sport and great enthusiasm played a major part in the growth of tennis throughout Asia and beyond, and he was instrumental in the success of tennis in the Olympic movement.
"He also was tireless in his support of Junior tennis around the world. All of us who served with Eiichi and considered him a friend will miss his optimism and his dedication to our sport.”