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Tokyo Olympic bid committee's docs on huge consultancy fees missing

Then Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda is seen in this March 19, 2019 file photo, after he announced his intention to resign at a committee meeting in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. (Mainichi/Naotsune Umemura)

TOKYO -- Accounting documents detailing over 900 million yen spent on overseas consultancy firms for Tokyo's 2020 Olympics and Paralympics hosting bid have gone missing, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The documents disappeared after the bid committee was disbanded in 2014 following its successful pitch to host the games.

The Mainichi asked a total of 20 related parties -- all 18 former members serving when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee was disbanded, and the director-general and deputy director-general at the committee secretariat -- on the documents' whereabouts. But no one could provide clear answers.

The documents were not passed down to the organizations that worked with the bid committee, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), or the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games responsible for managing the events.

Regarding the committee's expenditure on overseas consulting firms, French prosecutors are investigating its dealings with Singaporean firm Black Tidings, after suspicions emerged that the money was used in bribes for votes.

The bid committee was established in April 2012. Then JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda was appointed its chairman, while Masato Mizuno, current adviser to sporting goods manufacturer Mizuno Corp., was committee CEO. Primarily its members were JOC executives and senior Tokyo government officials. Tokyo was selected as the host city of the 2020 Games during the September 2013 IOC meeting, and the bid committee dissolved in March 2014 with Mizuno as the liquidator.

Between August and November this year, the Mainichi made the inquiries with the 20 individuals. Of them, seven said explicitly that they did not know where the documents were, while another nine gave ambiguous answers, with comments such as, "I'm not a director (of the bid committee) anymore," and, "Tokyo and the organizing committee serve as a representative for bidding activities."

Of the nine, Takeda, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto and Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki dodged the question by saying that the documents' whereabouts was "as described in the reports" released after the JOC investigated the committee's spending on Black Tidings.

The other three, including the secretariat director-general, said they believe the documents were being kept under the supervision of Mizuno. But Mizuno himself denied possessing them, telling the Mainichi: "I don't have them and I don't know where they are." The secretary-general also stated that as no taxpayers' money was included in the committee's income, "we are not supposed to disclose (accounting information) externally."

According to the bid-related activity reports compiled by bodies including the bid committee, as well as Diet session minutes, the committee effectively launched its campaign in September 2011, spending some 6.5 billion yen on lobbying and other efforts.

Of that cost, the committee allocated roughly 786 million yen to "overseas consulting fees." With the additional spending of approximately 135 million yen to Black Tidings written under "backlog and donations," in effect a total of at least 921 million yen was spent on overseas consulting fees.

The JOC launched an investigation team in May 2016 after suspicions surrounding the bid committee and Black Tidings surfaced. The team consulted with Mizuno and received the contract papers and accounting documents relating to the Singaporean firm.

Lawyer Yoshihisa Hayakawa, who led the investigation team, told the Mainichi that his team returned the papers to Mizuno after the investigation reports were released in September 2016. The accounting documents have since been missing from the public eye, and their whereabouts have not been confirmed.

The Mainichi submitted a freedom-of-information request to the Tokyo government, but only received a notification that says the documents "do not exist." The JOC's public relations and planning department denied keeping the documents, and the organizing committee's strategic PR department said the papers were not handed down from the bid committee, as the two committees are separate organizations.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike views the situation as problematic, and has indicated that she intends to ask the organizing committee to store related documents properly, in preparation for after the 2020 Games have ended.

(Japanese original by Ryuji Tanaka, Sachi Fukushima and Daisuke Oka, Special Reports Department)

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