BY LIAM MORGAN AT THE HOTEL ALAGARE IN LAUSANNE
Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Tsunekazu Takeda has reportedly been indicted on charges of corruption in France linked to Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
According to leading French newspaper Le Monde, Takeda, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and who led the Tokyo 2020 bid, is suspected of authorising the payment of bribes in order to help the Japanese capital secure the hosting rights for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The 71-year-old, born the third son of Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda and who is the great-grandson of the Emperor Meiji, who ruled Japan from 1867 until his death in 1912, was indicted by the national financial prosecutor’s office in Paris last month, Reuters reported.
Takeda, however, has denied the report.
“I have not been indicted,” Takeda told Japanese agency Kyodo News.
“No restrictions have been placed upon me.
“We have heard nothing new from the investigative team.
“It is extremely unfortunate if things untrue are reported.”
In a statement, the IOC Ethics Commission, which is holding a meeting here today, had opened a file on Takeda but claimed the Japanese official “continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence”.
Takeda is being investigated for “active corruption”, according to Le Monde, regarding payments worth $2 million (£1.5 million/€1.75 million) made to Singaporean company Black Tidings before Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.
The account holder has been closely tied to Papa Massata Diack, son of the disgraced former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack, currently being held in France and facing corruption charges.
It is alleged the payments were directed to the elder Diack, with authorities in France suspecting corruption or money laundering by an unknown person.
Tokyo, the winner of the first round of the 2020 vote, defeated Istanbul by 60 votes to 36 in the second ballot.
Madrid were eliminated in the first round.
An investigation team, established by the JOC, cleared Tokyo 2020 in September 2016 over the controversial payment, dismissing allegations it was used as a bribe as Lamine Diack was a voting IOC member at the time of the vote.
Takeda was questioned by Japanese prosecutors in 2017 in relation to the payments.
“I cooperated at a hearing with the investigators in charge,” Takeda, who denied allegations money had been linked to bribery, told Kyodo News.
“Such a thing is unthinkable.”
Today’s revelation, however, still represent another considerable blow to the IOC and Tokyo 2020, who have denied any wrongdoing contributed to their triumph.
“The IOC is ‘partie civile’ in this investigation and has been in close contact with the French judicial authorities,” the IOC said in its statement.
“The IOC Ethics Commission has opened a file and will continue to monitor the situation – and is meeting today.
“Mr Takeda continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence.
“These allegations refer to events before the IOC introduced far reaching reforms.
“With the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 the IOC reinforced its code of ethics and introduced an approved list of consultants.
“In order to be on the list the consultants have to declare that they respect the strict IOC rules on governance and ethics, and in particular anti-corruption.
“Candidate cities can only hire consultants that are on the list.
“As for the former President of the IAAF, Mr Diack no longer holds any position within the IOC.
“In 2015, the IOC provisionally suspended Mr Diack who then within 24 hours himself resigned as an honorary member.
“We continue to keep close contact with the judiciary authorities and the IOC President has even sent a letter to the President of Senegal to ask him for full cooperation, something to which President Macky Sall agreed.”