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Japanese Olympic chief questioned over corruption allegations in IOC teleconference

JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened an ethics panel on Jan. 11, and questioned Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Tsunekazu Takeda via teleconference concerning allegations of corruption related to Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Games.

The IOC has not disclosed what was discussed with Takeda in the teleconference, which came after French judicial authorities opened an investigation into his activities on suspicion of bribery. The IOC indicated that it would cooperate with local authorities in the probe, and would carefully observe the investigation while respecting the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."

In addition to serving as president of the JOC, Takeda, 71, is also chairman of the IOC Marketing Commission, and in order to continue his work through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in his home country, the IOC made the unusual move of putting off his retirement, which would normally come at age 70.

While the Associated Press reported that Takeda could be suspended from his position by the IOC as a disciplinary measure, an individual related to the JOC said, "I heard that there is a hard-line faction calling for discipline and one that is advocating for Takeda within the (IOC) ethnics panel." The individual ventured that the IOC may be waiting to see if French authorities indict Takeda before making any public decisions of its own.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde and other media, preliminary trial procedures began on Dec. 10, 2018. It is being investigated if a portion of the roughly 2.3 million dollars the Tokyo Olympic bid committee -- which Takeda chaired -- paid to Singaporean consulting firm "Black Tidings" ended up being handed over to a person linked to the IOC.

Black Tidings operator Ian Tan Tong Han is said to be closely tied to Senegalese Papa Massata Diack, whose father Lamine Diack is a former member of the IOC and previously served as the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Takeda commented, "I did not know about those two individuals, and I have never met Mr. Tan."

In connection with the selection of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games, the younger Diack accepted 2 million dollars, or roughly 200 million yen, from a Brazilian firm. Former Brazilian bid committee head Carlos Arthur Nuzman was arrested and indicted for allegedly working as an intermediary between the company and the younger Diack. Nuzman, who was an honorary member of the IOC, was stripped of his position as punishment, and resigned as the president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Tahara, Sports News Department, and Kana Takagi, Foreign News Department)

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