(ATR) Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda will retire his position in June, with talks under way to appoint a successor.
Tsunekazu Takeda (ATR)
Japanese media have reported since late last week that Takeda’s position within the JOC was in jeopardy. Many outlets are now reporting he will announce his intention to step down and make his current term his last at a JOC Executive Board meeting on March 19.
Takeda has led the JOC since 2001, serving 10 consecutive terms. Japanese media reported that the committee was considering extending the retirement age for JOC officials past 70 so that Takeda, 71, could serve another term through the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. A JOC spokesperson declined to comment to Around the Rings
about the reports of extending the retirement age.
JOC Executive Board member Yasuhiro Yamashita, a gold medalist in Judo for Japan at the 1984 Olympics, was named as the most likely successor by the Mainichi Shimbun
. Outlet Kyodo News
said that Yamashita along with Japanese Football Association President Kozo Tashima were potential successors.
Takeda has been under fire since the beginning of the year after French prosecutors announced that it was furthering an investigation into a payment the Tokyo 2020 bid committee made to a Singaporean consulting firm. Prosecutors allege that the $2 million payment from Tokyo 2020 to the firm known as Black Tidings was done in an effort to secure votes for the bid at the 2013 IOC Session.
Black Tidings is alleged to be a company owned by Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced IOC member Lamine Diack, and a front for vote buying. Prosecutors say there is substantial evidence to further the investigation using broad investigative powers, but it is unclear if Takeda will ever face trial.
Takeda immediately pledged his innocence in the aftermath of statements from the French prosecutors in a tense seven minute press conference. He said that the payment was a legitimate one from the bid committee, and that he only provided the final authorization. At the press conference Takeda took no questions and did not apologize, leaving many journalists baffled.
Japanese media over the weekend reported that there was pressure from the IOC to have Takeda step down.
An IOC spokesperson told ATR
that the organization “will not speculate about possible next steps” regarding Takeda.
After reports circulated on social media that IOC President Thomas Bach would not attend the Tokyo 2020 One Year to Go Ceremony because of the situation, an IOC spokesperson said that should Bach not attend, it would be only for logistical reasons.
“The President is very keen to take part in the one year to go ceremony for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” an IOC spokesperson said to ATR.
“But as he has to be in Peru for the Panam General Assembly and the opening of the Panam Games the next day, which he committed to some time ago already, there are still some logistics to be worked out.”
Written by Aaron Bauer
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