Tokyo 2020 payments legitimate: Japan Olympic chief

TOKYO • Japan's Olympic chief said yesterday that payments reported by The Guardian raising questions over alleged corruption by Tokyo's 2020 Games bid were "legitimate".

Tsunekazu Takeda, the former head of Tokyo's successful bid committee, said reports of clandestine payments were unfounded, describing them as a "legitimate consultant's fee".

Japan said yesterday it would question officials involved in Tokyo's 2020 Olympics bid over the multi-million dollar payment, which is being probed by French investigators.

"We would like to reaffirm that the Olympic Games 2020 were awarded to Tokyo as the result of a fair competition and as a result of the contents of our bid," Japanese Olympic Committee president Takeda said in a statement.

"The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant's fee paid to the service we received from (consultant) Mr Tan."

He was referring to Ian Tan Tong Han, reported by The Guardian as working for a subsidiary of Japanese marketing giant Dentsu.

Dentsu has denied any link to the payments.

Takeda said the money was for "professional services", for consultation work including "the planning of the bid, tutoring on presentation practice, advice for international lobbying communications and service for information and media analysis".

"All these services were properly contracted using accepted business practices," he said.

"Furthermore, the amounts paid were in our opinion proper and adequate for the services provided and gave no cause for suspicion at the time."

Earlier, top Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference that officials "will further work to confirm facts", citing the French probe.

Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo said the government's Sports Agency will speak to officials from the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Japanese Olympic Committee.

However, Suga and Endo both said they were confident that no wrongdoing occurred, based on previous declarations by officials.

Some US$2 million (S$2.74 million), paid to Singapore-based company Black Tidings, owned by Papa Massata Diack, the son of former International Association of Athletics Federations chief Lamine Diack, is at the centre of the suspicions.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Tokyo over Istanbul and Madrid as host for the 2020 Games in September 2013.

Diack senior was an IOC member at the time.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Tokyo 2020 payments legitimate: Japan Olympic chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe