Japanese Olympic chief indicted for ‘active corruption’ in 2020 bid
Tsunekazu Takeda has been linked with the Senegalese former head of the IAAF — who was charged with accepting millions of dollars to cover up failed Russian doping tests
Paris — The head of Japan’s Olympic Committee has been indicted in Paris for “active corruption” in connection with the awarding of the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, a French judicial source said Friday.
Tsunekazu Takeda was indicted on December 10 by investigating magistrates looking into a suspect payment of nearly €2m made before the Japanese capital was chosen to host the Olympics. Tokyo beat Madrid and Istanbul in the 2013 vote.
Takeda, a former Olympic showjumper who led the country’s campaign for the Games, is also an influential member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The French investigation, launched in 2016, relates to two payments made to Singapore-based Black Tidings, a firm linked to Papa Massa Diack, son of the Senegalese former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack. The younger Diack is himself a powerful marketing adviser to the IAAF.
The payments were made in two stages, before and after the IOC vote that decided the host city.
Papa Massa Diack, known as PMD, is suspected of having received several million euros in bribes, either for sponsorship contracts or to favour the Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo bids for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
Massa Diack has been on Interpol’s most-wanted list since December 2015 but the Senegalese government refuses to extradite him to France.
Last month, IOC president Thomas Bach formally requested that Senegal co-operate with French authorities investigating the corruption claims. In a letter sent to Senegalese President Macky Sall on November 16, which AFP has seen, Bach said investigating magistrate Renaud van Ruymbeke “told us of the difficulties he has come up against in the execution of the two investigation letters addressed to the minister of justice of Senegal”.
Takeda, who is currently the vice-chair of the 2020 Olympics organising committee, was questioned in 2017 by Japanese magistrates acting on behalf of the French judiciary. French judges have taken on the case because they argue that the funds involved might have been laundered in France.
The French investigation was launched in the wake of allegations of wide-scale corruption involving the IAAF, which was initially accused of helping Russian athletes evade sanctions imposed for failing doping tests.
A spokesperson for the office of the Japanese minister in charge of the Olympics, Yoshitaka Sakurada, declined to comment about the case on Friday, saying, “We can’t comment as we have not been informed about the case.”
When Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike was asked to comment on the indictment, she told reporters: “I don’t have enough information. I want to collect information. I’m quite surprised.”
Asked about any potential impact on the 2020 Olympics, she said: “I want to confirm what has been happening and how. I want to start with that.”
Lamine Diack, Papa Massa Diack’s father, was head of the governing body of the IAAF from 1999 until he was arrested in France in 2015. He was charged with accepting millions of dollars to cover up failed Russian doping tests along with two other IAAF officials. In June, he was also charged with favouring his son in negotiations over sponsorship and TV rights.