TOKYO • A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official has said allegations of illegal payments to help Tokyo win the 2020 Games were being taken "very seriously" but insisted there would be no independent IOC probe.
John Coates, chairman of the IOC's Tokyo 2020 coordination commission, yesterday welcomed the two separate investigations being conducted by French prosecutors and Japanese officials.
"The IOC takes the allegations in respect with the bid very seriously," he said in Tokyo. "We have a zero tolerance approach with regards to corruption in the bidding process.
"We are pleased that they're being investigated at that level. We share the same concerns as the Japanese public do about corruption, but we have decided we won't conduct a parallel investigation."
Controversy has cast a shadow over Japan's preparations for the 2020 Games after French authorities investigated payments of US$2 million (S$2.7 million) allegedly paid into a Singapore bank account - said to have been given to the son of disgraced former athletics chief Lamine Diack.
Coates refused to be drawn when asked if he felt Tokyo's preparations would be affected or if the city could even be stripped of the Olympics if found to have acted illegally.
"I certainly hope not," he said. "There's a range of remedies and sanctions that can be considered but I'm not going to speculate on those until we know the outcome of these two investigations, which we are closely monitoring."
The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) - headed by Tsunekazu Takeda, the same man who fronted the Tokyo 2020 bid team - ordered its own probe after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered unfettered cooperation with French prosecutors.
Tokyo 2020 bid leaders have denied any wrongdoing with Takeda insisting the payments were "a legitimate consultant's fee".
Coates, who on a visit to inspect venues last year became embroiled in a blazing public row over the spiralling cost of Tokyo's Olympic stadium, said: "I've no reason to doubt Mr Takeda's statement."