New Japanese police raids over Tokyo Olympics claims: reports


Published on:

Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese police carried out further raids on Wednesday following allegations that a Tokyo 2020 Olympics board member received money from a sponsor with whom he had signed a consultancy contract, reported local media.

Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, is believed to have received more than $300,000 from business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc., an “official partner” of last year’s pandemic-delayed mega-event.

This could constitute a bribe, as Takahashi was considered a quasi-civil servant who was not allowed to accept money or gifts related to his position.

Takahashi’s Tokyo home was raided by investigators on Tuesday morning, according to reports.

And local media said searches were carried out on Wednesday at the home of former Aoki chairman Hironori Aoki, 83, and the disbanded office of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee shut down operations last month, but it maintains a presence to manage assets and liabilities.

The Tokyo prosecutor’s office told AFP it could not comment on individual cases.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters the situation was “extremely regrettable” and that she would “keep a close eye on developments”.

“I have told the organizing committee that they should cooperate fully with this investigation,” she said.

A sports consultancy firm run by Takahashi is believed to have received money from Aoki for a contract he signed in 2017, according to local media.

Aoki became a Tokyo Games sponsor in October 2018, allowing it to use the event’s logo and sell officially licensed merchandise.

Takahashi told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper last week that the money his company received was for consultancy work.

“There was no conflict of interest with my position as a board member of the Organizing Committee,” he said.

Aoki released a statement last week saying he had no comment on the payout reports.

Takahashi, a former executive at Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu, served on the Tokyo 2020 board from June 2014.

Former Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto told reporters on Tuesday that she would “cooperate fully” with the investigation if she was tasked with it.

“Cases like this coming to light after the fact are very disappointing,” she said.

“We must act in a way that does not tarnish what has been achieved even with the pandemic.”

The case is not the first time questions have been raised about alleged irregularities around the Games.

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into allegations of corruption linked to Tokyo’s bid for the Games in 2016.

Former Japanese Olympic Committee chief Tsunekazu Takeda resigned in 2019 as French authorities investigated his involvement in payments made before Tokyo received the event.

The Tokyo Olympics opened on July 23 last year after an unprecedented year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games were held in largely empty stadiums after fans were banned due to the spike in virus infections in Japan.


Comments are closed.