Olympics: Japanese minister says it's not the government's role to look into Tokyo bid payments

IOC chief Thomas Bach said no IOC rules were infringed by payments in 2013 and 2014.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said no IOC rules were infringed by payments in 2013 and 2014.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto said it was not the central government's role to look into reports about large payments the Tokyo campaign allegedly made to various entities in the run-up to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) vote in 2013.

In response to a question from a lawmaker about Reuters' reporting on the subject, she said it was the responsibility of the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government to explain the bid's activities.

IOC chief Thomas Bach said last week no IOC rules were infringed by payments in 2013 and 2014 totalling more than US$8 million (S$10.7 million) from the Tokyo Olympic bid committee to an executive of the Tokyo organising committee.

Reuters revealed in March that Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of advertising agency Dentsu, was paid the money by Tokyo’s bid panel for undisclosed activities.

“With regard to Mr Takahashi, we received confirmation that there was no infringement on the IOC rules,” said Bach, who was visiting Japan to inspect preparations for the Olympics, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Takahashi had told Reuters his work included lobbying IOC members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker who has been convicted of corruption separately, to whom he gave gifts such as digital cameras and a Seiko watch.

He said he was paid through his company, Commons Inc, for “wining and dining” people who could further Tokyo’s bid, and for marketing and other activities related to Tokyo’s Olympic campaign.

Takahashi now sits on the board of the organising committee of the Games.