French prosecutors launch probe into Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid

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In this Sept. 7, 2013, file photo, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, Governor of Tokyo and Chairman of Tokyo 2020, Naoki Inose, second from left, and other members of the Japanese delegation celebrate as International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge announces that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games during the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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In this Aug. 21, 2015, file photo, then-IAAF president Lamine Diack adjusts his headphones during a joint IOC and IAAF news conference on the site of the World Athletic Championships in Beijing. French prosecutors say $2 million associated with Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics was apparently paid to an account linked to the son of the disgraced former IAAF president Diack in the months immediately before and after the Japanese capital won the games.

PARIS/TOKYO (Kyodo) — French prosecutors announced Thursday they have launched an investigation into Tokyo’s campaign to host the 2020 Olympics for alleged corruption and money laundering.

A statement from the prosecutors said a total of 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2.04 million) has been transferred from a Japanese bank to one in Singapore related to Papa Massata Diack, the son of former International Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack, in July and October 2013 under the name of “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Bid.”

The prosecutors said they have confirmed there were huge outlays by Diack’s side during the same time in Paris. Tokyo was awarded the Games in September 2013 when Diack was an International Olympic Committee member and was known as an influential power broker in the committee.

“How much influence the former president could have had on other committee members will be the focal point of the investigation,” a French judicial authority member told reporters.

“We carried out our bidding campaign fairly. There’s no issue or things to get worried about,” said Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, who was the chief of the bidding team. “We’ll reply properly if we get asked (by the IOC).”

Olympic minister Toshiaki Endo also said in a TV program he takes pride in Tokyo making a clean bid and denied the allegations.

Japan’s top government spokesman earlier Thursday denied allegations of bribery, saying the government understands the organizing committee conducted the campaign in an appropriate manner.

“We understand the campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Games was conducted in a clean way,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference after British newspaper the Guardian reported the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee paid 1.3 million euros ($1.48 million) to the account of Diack’s son.

Suga said he was “not aware of” the report, which also said French authorities were investigating the allegations. “If we receive a request (for investigation) from French judicial authorities, our country will respond appropriately,” he added.

Suga said the Japanese government has no plan to question the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games or conduct its own investigation into the allegations.

The account in question became a vital piece of the puzzle related to what has been alleged as being institutional corruption at athletics’ governing body.

Complicating the scandal further, the report said Japanese marketing and advertising behemoth Dentsu Inc. has previously been linked to the Diack clan through its long-running sponsorship contract with the IAAF, a deal that was extended by Diack just months before his presidency ended. Dentsu has been previously linked to scandals at both the IAAF and world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

The prosecutors launched an investigation into corruption in the IAAF and Diack was arrested in December, accused of accepting bribes to cover up doping offenses.

A report in January from the prosecutors claimed that Diack did not support the bid from Tokyo’s rival Istanbul as Turkey didn’t pay similar sponsorship money to the IAAF.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160513/p2g/00m/0dm/002000c

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