IOC ethics commission opens file on Takeda after formal probe begins in France
Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and an International Olympic Committee member, is under formal investigation in France over allegations of corruption related to the bid process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The country’s National Financial Prosecutors office said that Takeda was placed under formal investigation for “active corruption” on 10 December.
The IOC responded with a statement saying that it “has been in close contact with the French judicial authorities. 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.”
Takeda, who has been chairman of the IOC's marketing commission since 2014, today denied reports that he had been “indicted” on the charges, arguing that no “new facts” had been revealed.
He said in a statement: “Note that this case is worrying Japanese nationals supporting us towards the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, but I will continue to cooperate with the investigation onwards in order to clear up suspicions.”In February 2017, he was questioned by prosecutors in France investigating payments made during Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
Takeda was among various Japanese officials to have been questioned at the request of French authorities conducting a probe into alleged corruption in the bidding process, it was reported at the time.
It emerged in May 2016 that French investigators were looking into a suspicious payment of S$2.8 million ($2 million) alleged to have been made to Black Tidings, a Singapore-based company led by Ian Tan Tong Han, who has been closely tied to Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, the disgraced former president of the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body.
Takeda, the former head of the Tokyo bid, and ex-Tokyo 2020 bid director general Nobumoto Higuchi had insisted that the payment was “a legitimate consultant’s fee” and, in September 2016, an independent panel commissioned by the JOC found that the payments were neither illegal according to Japanese law, nor in breach of the IOC's code of ethics.
Diack is under a French police investigation for corruption at the IAAF, with Black Tidings at the heart of the probe.
Tokyo saw off competition from Istanbul and Madrid to be chosen to stage the 2020 Olympics, with the IOC said to be convinced by the bid team’s message that it was “a safe pair of hands” for the Olympic Movement.
Earlier this month it was reported that Takeda is to be allowed to continue as president of the JOC after an election this summer and until the games in Tokyo despite having exceeded the age limit of the JOC’s executives at the time of an election.
The age limit is 70 and Takeda is already 71, with the election due to take place in June.
The IOC has similarly extended its age limit to enable Takeda to continue as an IOC member until after the games, in recognition of his prominent and important role in the run-up to the games.
Takeda will enter his 11th term as president of the JOC, if re-elected this summer.