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Probe that denies Tokyo Olympic bid wrongdoing did not question key figures

A commission that investigated and absolved the Tokyo Olympic bidding committee of wrongdoing over suspicions of bribery in the bid for the 2020 Olympics was unable to question three of the central figures in the controversy, raising doubts about the credibility of the commission's report.

At a press conference on Sept. 1 where the commission gave its findings, Kiichiro Matsumaru, senior executive board member of the Japan Olympic Committee and an observer on the investigative commission, said, "I think we have cleared the suspicions." However, depending on the result reached by French prosecutors looking into the issue, the problem could flare up once again.

Sports commentator Masayuki Tamaki, who read the commission's report, says, "It's incomplete and doesn't answer any questions. All that matters is whether, when the French authorities' investigative result comes out, the former Olympic bidding committee can provide a counter-argument."

The commission spent three months questioning 34 people at home and abroad about the payments. However, they were unable to speak with Ian Tan Tong Han, who ran Black Tidings, the company that the Olympic bidding committee paid hefty sums of money to as part of a consulting contract. Nor were they able to speak with Lamine Diack, a man who had influence on International Olympic Committee members, or his son Papa Massata, to whom money the bidding committee paid to Black Tidings reportedly made its way.

The investigative commission labeled the contract between the bidding committee and Black Tidings proper based on testimony from residents living near Black Tidings and from people tied to advertising giant Dentsu Inc., which introduced the bidding committee to Tan.

According to the commission, the contents of the contract between the bidding committee and Tan were "typical" for consulting work, and no obvious breach of the contract has been confirmed.

However, if at the time of establishing the contract the bidding committee had forbidden any kind of activity that could be construed as bribery, it may have been able to avoid this situation. Tamaki says, "I think it is necessary to think (more) about the contents of a (consulting) contract."

One government insider source says, "Other countries, including France, will not believe the results of a probe in which investigators couldn't question the people directly involved. All we can do is wait for the results of France's investigation."

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