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French prosecutors confirm probe into Tokyo 2020 bid

The French financial prosecutor’s office has today (Thursday) confirmed that it is investigating allegations of “corruption and money laundering” relating to payments of SGD$2.8m (€1.8m/$2.1m) tied to Tokyo’s victorious bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Associated Press news agency said 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.

The Singapore account is thought to have been held by a close friend of Papa Massata Diack, the son of former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack. Lamine Diack is being investigated by the French police for alleged corruption at the IAAF. His son, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant, was banned for life by the IAAF ethics commission earlier this 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 in September 2013. As an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the time, Lamine Diack had a vote in the election for the host city.

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 prosecutor's office said it received information of the two “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game Bid” transfers in December. The prosecutors did not disclose the source of their information or what the funds were for. But the office said it has evidence of "important purchases" in Paris that were financed by Black Tidings.

Based on this and other evidence, the prosecutor's office said it opened an investigation on December 24, separate from the ongoing probe of the Diacks, “to determine the nature of the transactions … and to verify if acts of corruption and money-laundering were committed in the process of designating the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games.”

Earlier today, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga insisted that Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Games was “clean” after an initial report into the matter by UK newspaper The Guardian.

The IOC responded to the report by saying that it had been in touch with French magistrates about the matter. Yasuhiro Nakamori, spokesman for the Japan Olympic Committee, said: “We have not been asked any questions by the IOC on this matter.”