An investigation into suspicious payments made by Tokyo 2020 before their successful campaign to win the rights for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be launched by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), the organisation’s President Tsunekazu Takeda told the country's Parliamentary Committee today.
Takeda, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who led the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee, has admitted the transfers totalling $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.7 million) were made in 2013 to a Singapore-based account owned by company Black Tidings.
The payments to the company, which has ties to Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack, were supposedly for legitimate consultancy work.
The fee was paid to Black Tidings’ official owner Ian Tan Tong Han, according to Takeda, who also sits on the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Board.
The fact that Diack was a voting member when Tokyo was elected as host raises the possibility the transfers were a bribe paid to secure the support of the Senegalese and others under his influence.
French police are studying the payments as part of their investigation into the disgraced Diack family, who are accused of using the same account to channel money received in return for covering-up failed doping tests in athletics.
The developments have mired Tokyo 2020 in a corruption scandal, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe calling for full cooperation with any investigation into the matter.
Abe was a staunch advocate of the Japanese capital securing the hosting rights for the Games and met with Diack and other key officials during the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013 when Tokyo was announced as the 2020 host.
Takeda earlier this week refused to reveal any more details about the payments, insisting he was bound by confidentiality during a grilling at the Japanese Parliament.
He confirmed the payments and the bidding would come under scrutiny in order to find out whether there was any wrongdoing in the process.
“We are setting up an investigative team that includes outside lawyers,” he told the Parliamentary Committee today.
“We will once again talk with people connected to the bid at the time to ascertain whether or not there was anything illegal in the suspicions that have been raised.”
The IOC, facing suggestions that these are the most serious Olympic Games-related accusations since the bribery scandal surrounding the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, have vowed to “continue to work to shed light on the issue”.