Famous female golfer in nude-photo scandal?

"Don't miss it!," screamed the ad for the Nov. 7/14 edition of Flash magazine. "Full nude photo of a beautiful and famous athlete!"

By Geoff Botting
November 26, 2006

While many readers are busy trolling the internet for nude pictures of female golfer Michelle Wie all readers needed to do was buy a copy of a weekly magazine in Japan, slice open the edges of the sealed pages, and viola -- a photo of the mystery sportswoman - rumored to be a female golfer - in the flesh, albeit with her face blurred.

The woman was indeed completely naked, facing the camera while flashing the peace sign with both hands. According to Flash, as well as Asahi Geino, which also ran the photo, it had been circulated by a former boyfriend and taken in the bathroom of a love hotel.

So, during the following several days, readers were left to wonder -- who was this obviously young and very fit woman. Figure skater Miki Ando sprang to many people's minds. Or maybe skier Aiko Uemura?

Shukan Gendai steps in to reveal the answer: golfer Ai Miyazato. The magazine knows this because it had obtained the original photo, in which the face is plain to see. Ranking sixth in the world, 21-year-old Miyazato is undoubtedly one of Japan's most famous sports celebrities.

But is the photo genuine?

Most of the experts Shukan Gendai speaks with say no, no doubt to the disappointment of Miyazato's many male fans.

Takafumi Suzuki, a professional photo analyst, concludes that the manipulation in the image goes well beyond some blurring of the face. The image appears to be a composite, with the head stuck on the body of another shapely young woman.

"In the photo, the tiles in the background are in focus, while the body is a bit blurry. So then why is the face in focus?" he says.

Other inconsistences include the way light is reflected in the bathroom mirror, Suzuki points out.

As to why someone would create and then give such a photo to the media, the answer likely involves a very serious grudge against the famous golfer.

But, believe it or not, that news wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Japan's professional women's golf scene, according to the magazine. Ai, it turns out, is deeply resented by many of her colleagues.

"There's a lot of behind-the-scenes bullying going on, and it's particularly bad toward Ai," says an anonymous source, described as someone who takes part in the pro golf tour in Japan. "People do all sorts of things to her, such as breaking her umbrella or hiding her clothes right before the tournaments get under way."

Who might be the bullies? Namely other female golfers on the tour who are considerably older than Ai and not nearly as popular, the source speculates.

"For players in their 30s, even if they win a championship they'll see Ai grabbing the headlines in the sports papers the next day. . . . The photo seems to be just another part of this bullying."

Clearly, behind the naked truth of Flash's controversial photo lie some nasty truths in the world of Japanese professional sports.

Japan Times








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