TOKYO – The President of the Japan Olympic Committee denied on Tuesday bribery allegations in Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games following France’s investigation into the case.
At a press conference in Tokyo, Tsunekazu Takeda, denied the charges filed against him by the French prosecution for active corruption for allegedly purchasing votes that led to Tokyo’s successful bidding in 2013 beating Madrid and Istanbul.
Takeda said that he would cooperate fully with the French authorities and that he will do everything to prove his innocence.
He did not accept questions from the press and neither did he provide further details of the case as the investigation is still ongoing, a JOC spokesperson said.
Takeda, considered a key person behind Tokyo’s successful bid, reiterated his innocence after confirming in a statement on Jan. 11 that the financial transfers under French investigation were legitimate.
Suspicions rose after a payment was made by the Japanese bidding committee to Singapore-based consultant Black Tidings, worth 230 million yen ($2.12 million), made shortly before the designation of Tokyo as Olympic host for 2020.
The French authorities believe that this money transfer, officially to pay for the preparation of two reports, may have been used to bribe African members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through Black Tidings to secure votes in their favor at the meeting in Buenos Aires.
Takeda explained that the payment was remuneration for consultancy work and added that all related documents were already the subject of an investigation commissioned in 2016 by the Japanese government and in which no irregularities were found.
Black Tidings is linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, who resigned from the IAAF in 2014 after a Russian doping scandal.
French investigators suspect that the Japanese money circulated through the company before reaching the pockets of Diack’s son, so he could use his contacts with African committees to campaign for Tokyo.
It was precisely the investigation opened in 2016 against the former Senegalese leader and his son, both indicted in France for alleged corruption, that highlighted these suspicious payments and led the French judiciary to investigate Takeda as well.
Takeda, a former Olympic equestrian and great-grandson of Emperor Meiji has been presiding over the Japanese committee since 2001 and currently also holds the positions of vice president of the organization’s executive committee for the upcoming Olympic games and marketing head of the IOC.