Barely one week after the Tokyo Olympic Games was postponed to July 2021 by the organisers and host due to Coronavirus, a huge corruption allegation of $8.2m, camera gifts, has been brought against the host Japan in its bidding process.
A businessman who received millions of dollars for his work on Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympics, which was postponed said he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan’s bid.
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Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at the advertising agency Dentsu Inc, was paid $8.2 million by the committee that spearheaded Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, according to financial records reviewed by Reuters.
Takahashi told Reuters his work included lobbying International Olympic Committee members like Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, and that he gave Diack gifts, including digital cameras and a Seiko watch.
“They’re cheap,” he said.
The payments made Takahashi the single largest recipient of money from the Tokyo bid committee, which was mostly funded by Japanese companies. After his involvement in Tokyo’s successful campaign, Takahashi was named to the board of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, a group tasked with running the summer Games after it was awarded to Japan.
Takahashi acknowledged receiving the payments but declined to give a full accounting of how he used the money. He said he urged Diack to support the Tokyo bid and denied any impropriety in those dealings.
He said it was normal to provide gifts as a way of currying good relations with important officials like Diack. He said there was nothing improper with the payments he received or with the way he used the money, according to Reuters.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations allowed for the giving of gifts of nominal value at the time of the 2020 bid, but didn’t stipulate a specific amount.
Diack, 86, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer said Diack “denies all allegations of bribery.”