Japanese businessman Haruyuki Takahashi was paid $8.2m (€7.4m) by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics bid committee for his work to help secure the Games, and was instrumental in getting the support of Lamine Diack, the former head of the international athletics federation, according to a report by Reuters.
French prosecutors are currently investigating allegations that the Tokyo bid committee paid a $2.3m bribe to Diack for his support, via a Singaporean consultant. Diack denies the allegations. Tokyo was awarded the 2020 games by the IOC in a 2013 vote.
Takahashi, a former Dentsu executive and current board member of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, told Reuters that his work included lobbying Diack and that he gave the 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.
“You don’t go empty-handed. That’s common sense,” he said.
The French investigation into Diack has not questioned anyone regarding the payments to Takahashi.
Takahashi told Reuters 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.
Reuters has obtained financial records that show Takahashi was the single biggest recipient of money from the Tokyo bid committee. The records were provided by Japan’s government to the French prosecutors investigating Diack. Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, is also under investigation, on suspicion that he passed on money to his father from the Singaporean consultant. Papa Massata Diack also denies any wrongdoing.
Tsunekazu Takeda, the former head of the Tokyo bid committee, is also under investigation by the French prosecutors, who suspect him of authorising payments to the Singaporean consultant. Takeda denies any wrongdoing. He resigned from the Japanese Olympic Committee and the IOC last year.
The documents also show that $1.3m was paid to a non-profit institute run by the current head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Yoshiro Mori. Mori was also an influential lobbyist for the Tokyo bid. Prosecutors have not questioned anyone regarding this figure either. A representative of Mori’s institute said it was paid by the bid committee “mainly to analyse international information”.
Updated: This article was update on 4 April 2020, to remove a line that read: “International Olympic Committee regulations at the time of the 2020 bid allowed for gifts of a low value, although did not stipulate a maximum value.” This was incorrect. IOC rules for the candidature procedure for the 2020 Olympic Games 2020 clearly stated: “No gifts, of whatever value, may be given to or received by Olympic parties or the IFs of Olympic sports”.