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Japan

Head of Japan’s Olympic Committee denies corruption charges

  • Tsunekazu Takeda was indicted in December by the national financial prosecutor’s office in Paris, said a judicial source
  • Takeda has been a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee since 1987 and its president since 2001
PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2019, 9:56pm

The president of Japan’s Olympic Committee has been indicted in France on corruption allegations, a judicial source confirmed on Friday.

Tsunekazu Takeda was indicted last month by the national financial prosecutor’s office in Paris, the source said.

Takeda, a retired equestrian sportsman who is helping to organise Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games, denied the report in a statement, saying on Friday he had cooperated with French authorities.

“I have not been indicted. No restrictions have been placed upon me,” said Takeda. “We have heard nothing new from the investigative team.”

He refuted the idea that the money had been linked to bribery.

“I cooperated at a hearing with the investigators in charge. Such a thing is unthinkable. It is extremely unfortunate if things untrue are reported.”

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Other reports have mentioned not an indictment but that prosecutors in France are preparing to file criminal charges against Takeda.

In 2016, French prosecutors announced an investigation into more than US$2 million of payments made by the Japanese bidding committee to a Singapore consultancy firm, Black Tidings, during the bidding for the 2020 games.

Takeda was probed in 2017 by Japanese prosecutors in relation to those payments.

The questioning took place at the request of the French authorities, Kyodo News reported at the time.

Japanese officials said at the time the payments were legitimate consultant’s fees, and a panel commissioned by the Japanese Olympic Committee said in 2016 that it found the payments to have been legitimate.

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Takeda, 71, has long been involved in the Olympics movement, having competed as a show jumper in the 1972 and 1976 games.

He has been a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee since 1987 and its president since 2001, helping to coordinate the preparations for several Winter Olympics as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Games has been mired with issues, including an overhaul of the stadium design, which was abandoned in response to public anger over soaring costs, and plagiarism allegations over its original logo.

In October, environmental groups called on Olympic organisers to take action against a company they said was illegally destroying rainforests for wood used in the construction of venues of the Games.

The deadly summer heatwave that bakes the country in July and August has also been a concern, with Japan’s Medical Association in October issuing warnings about the risks to athletes and spectators.

Olympic organisers said in December they would bring forward the start times for marathon and race walks to dawn to lessen the effects of intense humidity.