Japan arrests Tokyo Olympics organiser on bribery allegations

Haruyuki Takahashi is accused of of taking a total of 51 million yen (S$521,985) of bribes between 2017 and 2021. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japanese prosecutors alleged on Wednesday (Aug 17) that the Tokyo Olympics sponsorship process was tainted by bribery, arresting a former senior member of the organising committee and three men linked to the clothing company that dressed the Japanese Olympic team.

Prosecutors suspect former Tokyo 2020 organising committee executive board member Haruyuki Takahashi of taking a total of 51 million yen (S$521,000) between 2017 and 2021 from executives seeking favourable treatment for sponsorship and licensing contracts.

Aoki Holdings founder and former chairman Hironori Aoki, former executive vice-chairman Takahisa Aoki and current senior managing executive officer Katsuhisa Ueda were arrested on suspicion of making bribes, the company said.

More than 50 payments were made to the account of a company run by Takahashi, prosecutors said in a statement.

Aoki Holdings operates an office wear chain across Japan.

It signed on as a Tokyo 2020 sponsor in 2018 and designed Japan's Olympic and Paralympic uniforms.

The company said in a press release that it has been cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to do so.

Takahashi is a former senior managing director of Dentsu Group, the advertising giant that coordinated the marketing and sponsorship elements of the Games.

Subsidiary Dentsu Inc said by e-mail that it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

The Japanese Olympic Committee did not respond to phone calls outside business hours.

The Games had yielded a hefty US$3.3 billion (S$4.56 billion) from sponsors by the time they kicked off in 2021, after being postponed from a year earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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