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Takeda corruption probe sullies 2020 Tokyo Olympics and IOC via the Washington Post

TOKYO — Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and a powerful IOC member, again denied corruption allegations against him, suggesting on Tuesday that any guilt was with others at the Japanese body.

Takeda read a seven-minute prepared text and then took no questions from hundreds of media.

Innocent or guilty in a bribery scandal that French authorities suspect helped land the games for Tokyo, the scandal has cast a shadow over the upcoming Olympics that open in 18 months. It also underscores failed efforts by the International Olympic Committee to clean up its bidding process with billions swirling around the preparations of every Olympics.

[…]

The Asahi newspaper reported Olympic Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada as saying at a separate news conference Tuesday that the allegations “are not very good for the image” of Japan.

IOC President Thomas Bach, speaking last month in Tokyo, described the games as “the best prepared” in history. They have overcome early problems that included a plagiarized logo design, and a redesign of a new Olympic stadium because of soaring costs. General cost overruns have continued to be an issue for Tokyo, which is now spending three times more than it said it would when it was selected.

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He acknowledged he had signed off on about $2 million in payments to a Singapore consulting company, Black Tidings.

French investigators have linked Black Tidings to Papa Massata Diack, one of the sons of powerful ex-IOC member Lamine Diack of Senegal.

Lamine Diack had huge influence over Olympic voters in Africa. In 2013, IOC members voted for Tokyo, eliminating attractive bids from Madrid and Istanbul.

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Jeff Kingston, who teaches Japanese politics at Temple University in Tokyo, said in the “end this could be known as the Black Tidings Olympics.”

“It’s a huge black eye for Japan. There is no other way to spin it,” he told The Associated Press.

Kingston also blamed the IOC.

“What this does is expose the failure of the IOC to get its house in order,” Kingston said.

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The JOC report concluded the $2 million was appropriate compensation for consulting work done by Black Tidings. Takeda also said he had no knowledge of links to the Diack family. He said the contact was not “illegal under Japanese law.”

“I’d like to clear the allegation against me, and I will cooperate fully with French authorities,” Takeda said.

Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee attempted to distance itself from Takeda, who headed the bid committee but is not at the head of the organizing committee.

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The preliminary charge against Takeda announced by the National Financial Prosecutors office was first reported by French newspaper Le Monde. The preliminary charge means the investigating magistrate has determined there are serious grounds for suspicion. But no decision has been announced on any prosecution.

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The IOC has about 100 members, and three are suspended on corruption allegations: Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait, Frank Fredericks of Namibia, and Patrick Hickey of Ireland. Nuzman, an honorary member from Brazil, is also suspended.

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