Tokyo Olympic CEO says no need for Takeda to resign
TOKYO (AP) — The chief executive of Tokyo's Olympic organizing committee said Friday there is no need for another top Japanese official to resign despite being investigated in a bribery scandal.
Toshiro Muto defended Tsunekazu Takeda, who is the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee and a vice president of the 2020 organizing committee. Takeka is also a powerful member of the International Olympic Committee, and chairman of its marketing commission.
"As you know, Mr. Takeda is saying that he's completely innocent," Muto said, speaking through an interpreter.
French authorities suspect that about $2 million paid by the Tokyo bid committee — headed by Takeda — to a Singapore consulting company, Black Tidings, found its way to some IOC members in 2013 when Tokyo won the over bids from Istanbul and Madrid.
French officials are also investigating similar alleged bribes paid by Brazil's bid committee that may have helped Rio de Janeiro land the 2016 Olympics.
"Tokyo's bid was the best and that is why we won the bid," Muto added.
Takeda last month acknowledged he signed off on the payments but denied corruption allegations. An internal report in 2016 by the Japanese Olympic Committee essentially cleared Takeda of wrongdoing.
The Japanese Olympic Committee report said it sought advice from Dentsu Inc., the powerful Japanese marketing and advertising company, to evaluate possible consultants. The report — citing Dentsu — said the Singapore consultancy was "an extremely competent Asian consultant."
Tokyo is spending at least $20 billion to organize the Olympics, and Dentsu has been responsible for helping organizers land a record $3 billion in local sponsorships, more than twice as large as any previous Olympics.
The scandal has soiled Tokyo's image, though its preparations have been called the best in recent memory by IOC officials.
Christophe Dubi, the executive director of the Olympic Games, stood next to Muto at Tokyo's headquarters and said the IOC had taken steps to fix its bidding process, which has been implicated for decades in various scandals.
He said the IOC had recognized "that new rules, clearer rules were needed in a number of respects including in the bidding process." He said those procedures were put into place after 2013.
He said the bidding process now "was absolutely transparent. ... The whole process itself is far more transparent and open, including to the media."
The IOC last month said it was giving Takeda the presumption of innocence and he remains an IOC member.
Dubi said the IOC was a civil party to the French investigation and said the IOC had acted "strongly. We need to have the information, the information in detail to act."
The French prosecutor's office has consistently refused comment and has declined to talk about details of the investigation.
"We are expecting now (for) the inquiry to progress and at some point in time a judgment will be rendered," Dubi said. "At this point in time, obviously, we cannot anticipate where it is heading."