Japan Olympic chief queried over payout to S'pore firm

TOKYO • Tokyo prosecutors have questioned the president of the Japan Olympic Committee over controversial payments made to a Singaporean consulting firm during the bidding for the 2020 Summer Games, Kyodo News agency reported yesterday.

The questioning of Tsunekazu Takeda, who led the successful bid, and several other people involved in the bidding, was voluntary and carried out at the request of the French authorities, Kyodo said.

Takeda and the others denied doing anything illegal.

The Tokyo prosecutors' office and the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters.

French prosecutors last year announced an investigation into more than S$2.8 million of payments made by the bid committee to the Singapore-based consultancy, Black Tidings.

Black Tidings is headed by Ian Tan Tong Hon, who is known to be a friend of Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced former international athletics chief Lamine Diack.

Japanese officials repeatedly said the payments had been legitimate consultancy fees, and a panel commissioned by the JOC said last September it had found that the payment was legitimate.

"Having no recognition of the violation of laws nor bribery, I have told (prosecutors) the same explanation I've given (previously)," Takeda told Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

Private broadcaster Nippon TV carried a similar story.

The two payments were made either side of Tokyo winning the hosting rights at a vote in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

Lamine Diack, whose son has denied receiving the money, was an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the time of the Japanese bid.

Tokyo beat Istanbul and Madrid for the right to host the 2020 Games, which have been hit by a host of controversies including massive cost over-runs.

"The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has no means of knowing the bid committee's activities," the organising committee said in an e-mail to AFP.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Japan Olympic chief queried over payout to S'pore firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe