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Diacks at heart of fresh Tokyo 2020 allegations

Papa Massata Diack, the man at the heart of multiple probes into the bidding processes for major sporting events is said to have sent an email on the day Tokyo secured the right to stage the 2020 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games warning of the need to “lock” down African votes to prevent them going to rival bidder Madrid.

French newspaper Le Monde said Diack emailed his father Lamine, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), stating: “Information coming from your African colleague, it seems that (Olympic Council of Asia president) Sheikh Ahmad (Al-Fahad Al-Sabah) is doing all he can to get the Africans to vote for Madrid! We need to lock this before the pause.”

Le Monde said the email, which was sent on September 7, 2013, just hours before Tokyo was awarded the Games, was responded to by Lamine Diack, who said: “We can talk about it after the session.”

In February, Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) president Tsunekazu Takeda, along with other officials, was questioned by Tokyo prosecutors in relation to the scandal connected to payments made in the city’s successful bid for the 2020 Games.

Takeda was questioned on a voluntary basis at the request of French authorities and stated he told them what he “has said so far,” indicating he denied any wrongdoing in the deal. The JOC in May 2016 formed an investigation panel to look into allegations of illegal payments relating to Tokyo’s bid. 

Takeda, who headed Tokyo’s bid team, approved the payment of SGD$2.8m (€1.8m/$2.1m) to the Black Tidings consultancy, which was headed by Ian Tan Tong Han. Han was a close associate of Papa Massata Diack.

The French financial prosecutor’s office is investigating allegations of “corruption and money laundering” relating to the payments. French prosecutors outlined that they have been told of payments marked “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game Bid” from a Japanese bank to the Black Tidings company in Singapore.

Lamine Diack is awaiting trial in France for alleged corruption offences during his time at the IAAF. His son, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant, was banned for life by the IAAF ethics commission last year and is wanted for questioning by French prosecutors.

The French prosecutors investigating suspected corruption by the Diacks and associates said they were informed the transfers occurred in July and October 2013. The Japanese capital emerged victorious against Madrid and Istanbul to secure the 2020 summer Olympics. 

Black Tidings, an apparent shell company in Singapore, has been linked by French prosecutors and a World Anti-Doping Agency-led investigation to Papa Massata Diack. The JOC panel concluded in September 2016 that the payments were not illegal or against the ethics code of the International Olympic Committee.

Lawyers for Lamine Diack told Le Monde that their client would “reserve his declarations to the justice, before talking to the press” adding that he is “absolutely innocent, concerning the offences he is accused of”.

Papa Massata Diack told the French newspaper: “As usual, good luck for your article and we will maybe meet at Tokyo in 2020 for an exclusive interview!”