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JOC President Takeda renews denial of corruption over 2020 Olympic bid

JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda speaks to the media in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Jan. 15, 2019. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Tsunekazu Takeda, who faces a corruption investigation by French authorities in connection with Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, stressed his innocence in a public statement on March 15.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Takeda, 71, said he had undergone a hearing in Paris on Dec. 10, then added, "I will fully cooperate with French authorities and make a full effort to prove my innocence." He said he was sorry for the commotion the allegations had caused.

The JOC president did not take any questions from reporters after making his statement, on the grounds that the French investigation was ongoing.

Takeda, who headed Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Games, has earlier stated that he would cooperate with French authorities to clear the suspicions against him. People close to him said he decided to make a statement to the press of his own accord to explain the matter.

French authorities began a full-scale probe into Takeda's actions in December last year on suspicion of bribery. He is being investigated over a payment of approximately 2.3 million dollars made in 2013 to Singaporean consultancy firm Black Tidings. Takeda maintains that this was a legitimate payment based on a consultancy contract, and that he was not involved in any bribery.

French investigators suspect that some of the money paid to Black Tidings was passed on to a son of Lamine Diack, a former member of the IOC who previously served as the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The JOC concluded in September 2016, after information on the payment to Diack's son Papa Massata Diack was reported earlier that year, that there was no illegality in Takeda's actions.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Tahara and Akira Matsumoto, Sports News Department)

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