Tsunekazu Takeda, the embattled president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, has confirmed that he will stand down from his role rather than seeking re-election in June, following bribery and corruption allegations linked to Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid.
Takeda was first first indicted earlier this year in Paris over two alleged payments of almost €2m ($2.3m) made to Singapore-based Black Tidings, which French prosecutors believe were intended to swing votes in favour of Tokyo’s Olympic bid.
Takeda and the JOC deny that there was anything improper about the payments, claiming they were made were made for legitimate consultancy work. Black Tidings is closely connected with former IAAF president Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack, both of whom are suspected of involvement with widespread corruption in the Olympic world.
Rather than resigning immediately, Takeda will remain in place until June, saying it was his “responsibility to serve out the rest of my term” and insisting “I don’t believe I’ve done anything illegal.”
He also apologised for the disruption caused by his standing down, saying that it was “most inappropriate to leave the JOC to younger leaders” in the run-up to next year’s Olympic Games. Leaving his role means he will also lose his International Olympic Committee membership in June. He has reiterated his commitment to proving his innocence.
Reports emerged over the weekend that Takeda was ready to step down in order to help the JOC move on from this scandal. According to the Inside the Games website, his decision was finalised when IOC president Thomas Bach reportedly turned down an invitation to Tokyo’s one-year-to-go celebrations over concerns about being associated with Takeda.