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JOC probe finds no wrongdoing in Tokyo's bid for 2020 Games

An investigative commission for the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) looking into allegations of wrongdoing in the JOC's 230 million yen consulting contract with Singaporean company Black Tidings over Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics announced on Sept. 1 that no wrongdoing took place.

The commission said that the contract did not run afoul of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s ethics rules that forbid any kind of gifts from bidders to IOC-related officials.

The allegations came up in January this year when an independent commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency was looking into alleged corruption by Lamine Diack, the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who had a vote on which city would win the 2020 bid. In May, French prosecutors revealed that they were looking into the flow of money from the Tokyo Olympic bidding committee to an account tied to Papa Massata, Diack's son.

JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda, who headed Japan's bidding committee, has admitted that twice, in July 2013 and October 2013, he sent money to Black Tidings as payment for consulting services. The payments totaled around 230 million yen. Ian Tan Tong Han, who ran Black Tidings, was a close associate of Massata, and the question arose whether a possible flow of money from the Tokyo committee to Massata through Tan was illegal.

The investigative commission said "it is not recognized that they (the bidding committee) could have known" about the close ties between Tan and Papa Massata. The commission also said that the bidding committee did not think when signing the consulting contract with Black Tidings that it would lead to a gift to someone with Olympic ties. The commission said that Black Tidings "was in a position that allowed it to acquire highly secretive information," and "is believed to have conducted an appropriate amount of lobbying work."

The commission did recognize there was a "certain level" of problems with regard to the bidding committee's transparency about what it was doing, as it did not explain that, with Takeda's permission, a separate payment for the success of the bid was to be paid to Black Tidings as part of the hefty 230 million yen amount.

The commission questioned 34 people in Japan and abroad in its probe. The commission also conducted investigations in Singapore, but says it was "unable to receive a response" from Tan or either of the Diacks.

The JOC set up the investigative commission in late May this year. Yoshihisa Hayakawa, a lawyer and a professor at the College of Law and Politics at Rikkyo University, served as chairman of the commission, which also included a lawyer and a certified public accountant. There were also two observers, one from the JOC and one from the Tokyo Municipal Government.

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