Japan: Former Tokyo Olympic board member under investigation

As a quasi-civil servant, accepting money or gifts could constitute bribery, says local media



By AP

Published: Tue 26 Jul 2022, 11:41 AM

Prosecutors searched the home of Haruyuki Takahashi, a former Tokyo Olympic organising committee executive board member on Tuesday, in connection with payments made to him by an Olympic sponsor of the Tokyo Games, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

Kyodo said Takahashi is thought to have received around ¥45 million from clothing retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. Kyodo explained that Aoki's Olympic sponsorship was announced about a year after the reported payments.

Takahashi was a member of the Tokyo Olympic executive board, and Kyodo said that as a quasi-civil servant, accepting money or gifts could constitute bribery.

The Tokyo Olympic organising committee was dissolved on June 30. The Tokyo Olympics, delayed for a year, opened on July 23, 2021. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government held a ceremony at the $1.4 billion National Stadium to mark its anniversary.

Aoki is reported to have supplied uniforms for the Olympics, and sold licensed products carrying the Olympic logo.

Takahashi was closely tied to the Tokyo Games. He is reported to have received millions of dollars from the Tokyo bid committee for his work in lobbying International Olympic Committee members, when Tokyo was chosen in 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ahead of Madrid and Istanbul. He has said that there was nothing improper about the payments and has denied any wrongdoing.

Takahashi is a former employee of the giant Japanese advertising agency Dentsu Inc., which is credited with helping Tokyo land the Olympics. Dentsu was the exclusive marketing agency for the Tokyo Olympics and was pivotal in lining up a record of more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorship deals.

The Tokyo Games, which officially cost $13 billion, were filled with problems, even before the pandemic hit.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, resigned in 2019, after being tied to an investigation into bribes reportedly paid to IOC members in the 2013 vote.

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo organising committee, was forced to resign after making demeaning remarks about women, five months before the Olympics opened.

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