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Tokyo 2020 bid payments to ex-Dentsu executive did not break rules, claims Bach

IOC president Thomas Bach and Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori at press conference on November 16, 2020 (by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has stated no IOC rules were broken by payments of more than $8m (€6.7m) in 2013 and 2014 from Tokyo’s bid committee for the 2020 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to a current board member of the organising committee.

Japanese businessman Haruyuki Takahashi was paid $8.2m by the Tokyo 2020 bid committee for his work to help secure the Games, the Reuters news agency reported earlier this year, and was said to have been instrumental in getting support for the bid from Lamine Diack, the disgraced former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now known as World Athletics.

Speaking during his ongoing visit to Japan to discuss Tokyo’s preparations for the postponed Olympics, Bach said: “With regard to Mr Takahashi, we received confirmation that there was no infringement on the IOC rules.”

At the time, Takahashi, a former executive at the Dentsu agency, said that his work, through his company Commons Inc, included lobbying Diack and that he gave official gifts including digital cameras and a watch. Takahashi said it was normal to provide such gifts when meeting such officials and there was nothing improper about them.

Takahashi claimed he was hired as a consultant by the Tokyo bid committee due to his connections to Diack and other officials in the sports world, developed during his years working in sports marketing with Dentsu. Takahashi said his role involved “wining and dining” people that could help Tokyo’s bid, and that he did not pay any money to anyone as part of it. He said he asked Diack to support the bid, and denied that he paid bribes or did anything wrong to secure that support.

In its reporting at the time, Reuters cited banking records provided by Japan to French prosecutors as part of their investigation into whether Tokyo’s bid committee paid $2.3m through a Singapore consultant to win Diack’s backing for the 2020 Games.

In September, Diack was found guilty of corruption following charges associated with the Russian doping scandal and was sentenced to two years in prison. The Senegalese official was also fined $590,000 as a ruling was handed down by a Paris court.

Diack was found guilty of multiple corruption charges and of breach of trust but was acquitted of a money laundering charge. Prosecutors accused the 87-year-old of soliciting €3.45m ($4.1m) from athletes suspected of doping, many of them Russian, to cover up their doping results.

At yesterday’s news conference, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori was also questioned over the bid committee’s past payments to the Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport Institute. Mori also heads up this body, but maintained he is not directly involved in its financial affairs adding that he did not know about the circa $1.3m payment the institute received.

“It’s true that I am the president of that organisation, but I wasn’t directly involved in the handling of the finances,” Mori added.  Bach said the matter was an “internal affair” of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee.