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Activities of 'consulting company' linked to Tokyo Olympic bid remain murky

The apartment and former business address of Black Tidings, with sandals and umbrellas strewn in front, is seen in Singapore, on May 17, 2016. (Mainichi)

SINGAPORE -- The true activities of a "consulting company" here that received some 230 million yen from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics bid committee remain unclear, amid suspicions that the firm was merely a front.

The business address for the now-defunct Black Tidings, run by one Ian Tan Tong Han, was an apartment in a public residential complex in a Singapore suburb. When the Mainichi Shimbun visited the apartment on May 18, there were umbrellas and sandals outside the door, and nothing to suggest it had ever been an office.

According to registration records, Tan was born in 1982, and there was a man in his mid-30s in the apartment when the Mainichi visited. When a reporter called in through a window to ask if he was Tan, the man threatened to call police and asked the reporter to leave.

Neighbors say that the man lives in the apartment with his family. One neighbor said she often saw the man playing with his child during the day, but not in the past few days.

Sources including registration records show the predecessor to Black Tidings was a music-related company established by friends of Tan in 2004. Tan later took over the company, and in 2011 he changed its name to Black Tidings, a consulting firm. In 2013, two payments totaling 230 million yen were paid to the firm by the Tokyo Olympic bid committee for consulting services. Black Tidings was dissolved in 2014.

According to one of Tan's friends, around 10 years ago Tan was working as a clerk at a music school. The friend said he had never heard of Tan being involved with consulting work.

However, Tan does seem to have been involved with sport business. According to Maurice Nicholas, 83, of the Singapore-based Asian Athletics Association, Tan signed a sponsorship contract with the association in 2014 under a different company name. Nicholas said he first met Tan through an introduction by a Chinese official. He said Tan was hard-working and dedicated, and he is surprised by what he has been said about him in the news lately.

On a Facebook page that a friend of Tan said belonged to Tan, there was mention that he had worked at a company that was involved with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

French authorities are investigating whether funds went via Tan to Papa Massata Diack, son of the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Nicholas said he hadn't known that Tan and Diack were connected, and that he didn't know how Tan and Diack got to know each other.

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