Ex-deputy manager of Tokyo 2020 test event body set to admit role in bid-rigging case
TOKYO -- A former deputy manager of a Tokyo 2020 organizing committee body in charge of test events for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games intends to admit playing a role in a bid-rigging scandal, sources familiar with the case have disclosed.
According to the sources, the former deputy manager for the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games' event operating bureau has expressed to others an intention to admit involvement in the illicit coordination of bids connected with the organization of the test events.
The former deputy manager had denied the allegations since November 2022, when investigators raided the former official's home on suspicion of violating Japan's Antimonopoly Act through unfair trade restrictions. The former deputy manager is reportedly giving explanations along the lines that they cannot deny the implication of allocating winning bids on a list containing the names of companies.
It has already emerged that officials at advertising giant Dentsu Inc., which compiled the lists of competitions and venues in which the companies sought to take part along with the former deputy manager, admitted to bid-rigging allegations when questioned by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigative unit.
The Antimonopoly Act's stipulations on unfair trade restrictions are intended to crack down on companies, but the special investigative unit takes the position that the former deputy manager on the outsourcing side played an indispensable role in coordinating the bids. It is accordingly believed that prosecutors are poised to form a case against the former deputy manager on suspicion of joint bid-rigging along with people from multiple companies including Dentsu.
According to the sources, in 2017, before the bidding for the test events was opened to the public, the organizing committee's Games operating bureau asked Dentsu to investigate the track record of advertising agencies and event companies regarding hosting sports events to make sure that there would be no hiccups in the operation of the Games. By around the spring of 2018, Dentsu and the organizing committee compiled a list of events and venues which the companies were seeking to handle.
In investigations by prosecutors' special investigative unit to date, the former deputy manager had admitted involvement in the creation of the list, but said it was not binding on companies. However, the former official is now apparently willing to admit its illegality. Dentsu's side has also acknowledged that the list was created together with the former deputy manager, and recognized that this constituted collusion.
In 2018, the Games' organizing committee ordered 26 projects through open bids for the planning of test events. Twenty-five of them were won by a total of nine companies including Dentsu and fellow advertising giant Hakuhodo Inc. for approximately 530 million yen (roughly $4.12 million) in total. In November 2022, the special investigative unit and the Japan Fair Trade Commission raided eight of these companies and two others that subcontracted the work.
(Japanese original by Yujiro Futamura, Shintaro Iguchi, Matsuo Tomonori and Makoto Kakizaki, Tokyo City News Department)