Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), on Tuesday rejected allegations of corruption related to Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, telling a Tokyo press conference, “There’s nothing to be suspicious of.”
Takeda, 71, made the remark after French judicial authorities launched a full-scale investigation into suspicions that Takeda, who was then head of the bid committee, was involved in the corruption.
The JOC told the media before the press conference that it would not hold a question-and-answer session, on the grounds that the French investigation was ongoing. Takeda read out a prepared statement instead.
According to French media, the focus of prosecutors’ investigation is whether a total of about ¥230 million ($2.1 million) in consultancy fees paid by the Tokyo bid committee to the Singapore consulting firm Black Tidings constituted a bribe.
Regarding the approval process for signing a consultancy agreement, Takeda said Tuesday, “The person in charge submitted a proposal, and his boss approved it, and I was then asked to give the final approval as the head [of the bid committee].” He insisted again that “the contract was signed through proper approval procedures.”
Ian Tan Tong Han, who represented the consulting firm, is believed to have had a connection with a son of Lamine Diack, who was then president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The allegations came to light after French prosecutors issued a statement in May 2016. A JOC investigative team concluded in September 2016 that there was no illegality in the payment of consultation fees.
Takeda also said Tuesday, “[The JOC investigation] confirmed that I was unaware of the relationship between Black [Tidings] and the IAAF president as well as his son.”
French media has reported that French authorities launched on Dec. 10 last year a so-called preliminary proceeding, the equivalent of a formal investigation, to decide whether to indict Takeda.
“I attended a hearing in Paris. I answered all the questions and explained my innocence,” Takeda said.
The IOC’s Ethics Commission conducted a hearing Friday with Takeda via teleconference about the allegations.
Minister: Japan steadily preparing
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Masahiko Shibayama said after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning, “I believe Mr. Takeda’s statement that he has nothing to hide, and we will keep preparing diligently [for the Olympics], as we have until now, to make them a Games to be remembered.”
Amid concerns that the Tokyo Games’ reputation will be harmed, Yoshitaka Sakurada, minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, said at a press conference: “To be honest, this is not a good image. It’s extremely regrettable. What’s most important is how we act from now on to dispel the [bad] image.”Speech