(ATR) Tsunekazu Takeda, the IOC member who led Tokyo’s election as 2020 host city, is under investigation in France as part of a sprawling corruption probe investigating two Olympic bids.
Tsunekazu Takeda (ATR)
A member of the Financial Crimes department in the French Prosecutors office confirmed to Around the Rings
the investigation saying Takeda " is suspected of having paid Black Tidings, meaning [Papa Massata Diack], in order to get African votes for the [2020 Olympics]".
The prosecutor confirmed that Takeda was charged on Dec. 10 as part of the investigation.
An IOC spokesperson confirmed that “IOC Ethics commission has opened a file and will continue to monitor the situation - and is meeting today”. Takeda is expected to be in Lausanne on Jan. 19 as part of meetings for the IOC Marketing Commission.
“The Ethics Commission this morning heard Mr Takeda by video conference and will continue to monitor the situation whilst respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence," the spokesperson said. "As the case is on-going the IOC cannot comment further."
The spokesperson added that the organization remains in close contact with French judicial authorities as part of the investigation, and that the allegations took place before IOC reforms regarding consultants kicked in.
Takeda serves as chair of the influential IOC Marketing Commission and is President of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Under Takeda's leadership, the marketing commission has signed Alibaba, Allianz, and Intel as TOP Sponsors.
Outside of his IOC influence Takeda is connected to many sport power brokers within Asia. He serves on the Olympic Council of Asia Executive Board with Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah. Ahmad has stepped away from his IOC and Association of National Olympic Committees roles as he fights forgery charges in Switzerland. Takeda also serves on the ANOC Executive Committee.
French authorities have been investigating Takeda’s link to Lamine Diack and his son Papa in regards to alleged vote buying ahead of the 2013 IOC Session. Investigators focused on a $2 million payment from Tokyo 2020 to a Singaporean consultant firm Black Tidings, which was connected to Papa Diack.
The three-year ongoing investigation is looking into allegations of bribery surrounding both the 2020 and 2016 Olympic bid races. Former IOC Member Carlos Nuzman was arrested in Brazil in 2017 on charges of soliciting votes ahead of the 2009 IOC Session where Rio was elected 2016 Olympics host city. Brazilian authorities at the time said they were working with French counterparts as part of the investigation. Nuzman’s trial is ongoing.
Japanese officials have always maintained the payments were for legitimate consulting services, not to purchase votes ahead of the 2020 Host City Election in Buenos Aires. Japanese media reported in 2017 that Takeda was questioned by French authorities as part of the probe.
A Tokyo 2020 spokesperson said the organizing committee “was aware” of the news regarding Takeda, but all comments should be directed to the JOC.
Tokyo 2020 begins in about 18 months (Tokyo 2020)
The JOC did not immediately return requests for comment, but a statement from Takeda to local media denied the allegations and said the “case is causing tremendous concern among the people who are supporting the Tokyo Games”.
“But I will continue to cooperate in the investigation in order to clear any suspicion of me,” Takeda added.
Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Yuriko Koike told local media that she was “quite surprised” by the reports concerning Takeda, but could not say if it would affect Tokyo 2020 preparations. The Games kick off in about 18 months.
“I did not have enough information just by looking at the first report, I would like to gather information in the future,” Koike said, as reported by Sankei News
"I want to confirm what is being done now. I am confused because I do not know the details. I will keep watching. "
Written by Aaron Bauer
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