Tokyo Olympics bribery scandal threatens to derail Wintry weather Video games bid | Japan

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Greater than a yr after the Tokyo Olympics had been held in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, their legacy has been overshadowed through a bribery scandal that threatens to derail a bid through any other Eastern town to host the Wintry weather Video games.

This summer time, as officers in Sapporo, on Japan’s northernmost primary island of Hokkaido, promoted their bid for the 2030 Video games, police arrested Haruyuki Takahashi, a former Tokyo Olympics government, on suspicion of taking bribes in go back for serving to corporations turn into reliable sponsors for remaining yr’s tournament.

Seiko Hashimoto, who changed Yoshiro Mori as head of the Tokyo 2020 setting up committee after her predecessor made sexist remarks about feminine sports activities directors, this month stated the corruption allegations may just negatively have an effect on Sapporo’s possibilities.

Describing the placement as “very serious”, Hashimoto mentioned she was hoping investigators would unravel the 2020 allegations once imaginable. “The importance and worth of the Tokyo Video games have come into query,” she added, in keeping with Kyodo information company.

Takahashi, who is assumed to have had a key function in deciding on sponsors, was once remaining month indicted for a fourth time, with the previous senior managing director at Japan’s largest promoting company, Dentsu, suspected of accepting 198m yen (£1.2m) in bribes from 5 corporations. He has denied the allegations.

Haruyuki Takahashi pictured in 2020
Haruyuki Takahashi, pictured in 2020, was once indicted remaining month for a fourth time. {Photograph}: Issei Kato/Reuters

In all, 15 other folks were indicted over the scandal, together with the previous president of a Tokyo-based doll-maker that produced the Olympic and Paralympic mascots, in addition to former and present executives from Aoki Holdings, a go well with store that equipped the Eastern staff’s uniforms, and a publishing company and promoting company.

Mori, a former high minister, volunteered to be interviewed through prosecutors in September amid reviews that Aoki had given him cash. Prosecutors mentioned Mori have been wondered as an unsworn witness and now not as a suspect.

In a separate construction, police raided Dentsu’s headquarters overdue remaining month in reference to allegations that bids have been rigged to come to a decision which corporations labored on take a look at occasions for the Tokyo Video games, that have been postponed through a yr because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dentsu was once instrumental in serving to Tokyo win the 2020 Video games when the World Olympic Committee (IOC) made up our minds the host town in 2013. The corporate then secured list home sponsorship price about 376bn yen (£2.25bn) – thrice that raised for London 2012, the former record-holder.

Involvement within the pre-Olympic take a look at occasions would have put corporations at a definite merit when it got here to choosing corporations to paintings on occasions right through the 2020 Video games.

“We proceed to completely cooperate with this investigation,” Dentsu mentioned in a commentary. Aoki Holdings up to now mentioned it could cooperate with government.

Sapporo remaining hosted the Wintry weather Olympics in 1972 and have been hoping the Tokyo Video games, that have been most commonly held in the back of closed doorways however ended with out triggering a big Covid outbreak, would improve its bid.

Sapporo is normally observed as having a more potent case than its handiest rival, Salt Lake Town, however its marketing campaign has been overshadowed through adverse headlines about Tokyo 2020. Vancouver dropped its bid in October after it didn’t obtain enhance from the British Columbia executive. The IOC is because of come to a decision the host town subsequent October.

In October, the mayor of Sapporo, Katsuhiro Akimoto, and the president of the Eastern Olympic Committee, Yasuhiro Yamashita, impulsively cancelled a talk over with to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to advertise town’s bid. Yamashita claimed the verdict had no reference to the bribery allegations, blaming “scheduling problems”.

Michael Payne, who’s credited with the use of sponsorship to develop into the IOC’s logo and budget as its director of selling from 1989 to 2004, has mentioned the bribery scandal is not going to have an effect on Sapporo’s “technically very robust bid”.

“I call to mind this very a lot as an area, political factor,” Payne informed Agence France-Presse after Akimoto’s cancelled talk over with. “It raised eyebrows as to why they’re making this sort of meal out of what frankly is minor sponsor influence-peddling.”

Even supposing a survey performed previous this yr discovered maximum Hokkaido citizens supported the 2030 bid, Sapporo has rejected requires a citywide referendum.

The Asahi Shimbun mentioned the scandal pointed to a “the most important loss of dedication to equity and transparency”.

“If the allegations become true, that is an unusual scandal involving nearly the entire events amongst the ones awarding and receiving contracts. It’s no marvel that the scandal is evoking deep public mistrust,” the newspaper mentioned in a piece of writing this week. “A brand new bid to host the Olympics can’t win public enhance except structural issues in the back of the scandal are rectified.”

The IOC has tried to distance itself from the scandal. Its president, Thomas Bach, didn’t attend an October rite at Tokyo’s nationwide stadium to mark the primary anniversary of the Olympics and Paralympics, mentioning a scheduling warfare.

“We have now complete self belief within the Eastern government and likewise the auditors of the setting up committee,” the IOC mentioned in a commentary. “The IOC has each and every pastime within the complete explanation of this example.”



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