Tokyo 2020 bid under scrutiny

Members of the Tokyo bid committee celebrate as Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, announces Tokyo as the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games during a ceremony in Buenos Aires in 2013.
Members of the Tokyo bid committee celebrate as Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, announces Tokyo as the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games during a ceremony in Buenos Aires in 2013.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

French investigators looking at $2 million payment to Diack Jr; Japan says bid was clean

PARIS • French investigators suspect that payments made to the son of disgraced former athletics supremo Lamine Diack were to get support for Tokyo's 2020 Olympics bid, a source close to the inquiry said yesterday.

Some €1.3 million (S$2 million), paid to a company owned by Papa Massata Diack is at the centre of the suspicions. Both father and son face corruption charges in France.

The payments were made in 2013 to Black Tidings, a Singapore-based company linked to Papa Massata, who was employed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as a consultant.

The International Olympic Committee chose Tokyo over Istanbul and Madrid as host for the 2020 Games in 2013 in Buenos Aires.

The payments were discovered as part of an inquiry into allegations that the Diacks organised bribes to cover up failed dope tests by Russian athletes, the source close to the inquiry said.

French investigators became involved as the money may have been laundered in Paris.

There are now separate investigations into the doping bribes and suspected Olympic bid corruption for the 2016 and 2020 Games, the source said.

Lamine, who is banned from leaving France, faces corruption and money-laundering charges in the country.

His son, who is based in Senegal, is wanted by French authorities who have issued an international arrest alert through Interpol. However, authorities in Senegal have said that he will not be extradited.

The Japanese government insisted earlier yesterday that the Tokyo bid was "clean".

Reacting to a report by British newspaper The Guardian into the French investigation, Japanese government chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said: "My understanding is that the bid process of the Tokyo 2020 Games was done in a clean way.

"Japan will take appropriate measures if the French justice authorities make any request, but will not question the Tokyo 2020 team based on the report."

A report released in January by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) suggested that Diack's vote for 2020 may have been swayed by US$5 million (S$6.85 million) in sponsorship money.

A footnote in the Wada independent commission report cited transcripts of conversations between another Diack son, Khalil, and Turkish officials over the 2020 Games.

"It is stated that Turkey lost (Lamine Diack's) support because it did not pay sponsorship money of US$4 million to US$5 million either to the Diamond League or IAAF.

"According to the transcript the Japanese did pay such a sum," the Wada report said.

"The 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo. The (independent commission) did not investigate this matter further for it was not within our remit," it added.

At the time, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Hikariko Ono called the report "beyond our understanding".

Ono made a similar comment about the new details of the French investigation.

Tokyo 2020 "has no means of knowing these allegations", he said in a statement. "We believe that the Games were awarded to Tokyo because the city presented the best bid."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Tokyo 2020 bid under scrutiny'. Print Edition | Subscribe