TOKYO (AP) – A month ago, 1,400 Olympic dignitaries warmly applauded Tsunekazu Takeda in front of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Tokyo.
A month later, the powerful IOC member and head of the Japanese Olympic Committee leads a corruption investigation, suspected by French investigators to authorize the payment of bribes to help win the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. the IOC members vote in 2013.
In a statement Friday of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Takeda denied any wrongdoing.
A distant relative of the royal family of Japan – the great-grandson of Emperor Meiji – Takeda could join an increasing list of suspended IOC members and honorary members linked to corruption investigations . His case could potentially tarnish the Tokyo Olympics, which will open in 18 months.
Bach has called Tokyo's preparations "best" so far, although the price to prepare the games to $ 20 billion is causing concern. That's three times more than Tokyo bidders thought it would cost once they won the Olympics.
"The Tokyo Olympics are facing a black cloud," the popular daily Nikkan Sports headlined on Saturday.
Takeda has scheduled a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss an investigation that has been ongoing for several years.
"The case is causing great concern among those who support the Tokyo Games," Takeda said. "But I will continue to cooperate with the investigation to eliminate any suspicion of me."
Two of the three major Japanese newspapers – Mainichi and Asahi – published the article on the front page of Saturday. It was the main story of Mainichi, and Asahi placed Olympic history under the ownership of former Nissan president, Carlos Ghosn.
In Asahi, next to a photo of Takeda, the title of the article was as follows: "A French judge presiding at a preliminary hearing suspects corruption at the tender call. Olympic."
Ghosn is a Frenchman born in Brazil, and several articles suggest that France might be reluctant to Japan's treatment of Ghosn.
"France defends itself for the Ghosn affair?", Titled Aera magazine, published by Asahi.
The Tokyo Shimbun has released the most powerful title: "The Tokyo Olympics in shock and turmoil".
"Why not now?", Headlined the newspaper, citing anonymous officials of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The newspaper said: "The people working at the Tokyo Olympics were shocked. At about 500 days from the opening of the games, the people involved are perplexed and stunned. "
The IOC Ethics Commission was scheduled to meet on Friday, but the IOC did not specify the measures taken. He could suspend Takeda or ask him to withdraw during the investigation. Or do not do anything.
Three IOC members are now suspended: Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait, Patrick Hickey of Ireland and Frankie Fredericks of Namibia. Brazilian honorary member Carlos Nuzman, who led the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, is also suspended as part of a similar investigation on vote-buying.
The preliminary accusation against Takeda announced by the national office of the financial prosecutors was reported Friday by the French newspaper Le Monde. The preliminary charge means that the investigating judge determined that there were serious grounds for suspicion. But no decision has been taken regarding the prosecution.
According to Le Monde, the French authorities suspect that the Tokyo IOC vote in 2013 would have been influenced by secret agreements guaranteeing the support of IOC members from Africa.
Le Monde reported that French investigators suspected Takeda of authorizing the payment of $ 2 million in bribes paid to each other and the IOC's vote in September 2013 to a Singaporean company. Black Tidings.
French prosecutors linked Black Tidings to Papa Massata Diack, one of the sons of Lamine Diack, who chaired the IAAF from 1999 to 2015.
Lamine Diack, who had a huge influence on African voters in Olympic competitions, is currently under investigation in France over charges related to corruption and allegations that he, his son and others allegedly participated in blackmail and concealed unsuccessful drug testing. Diack, 85, had to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave the country. His son would be in Senegal.
Takeda led Tokyo's second consecutive bid for the Summer Games after losing to Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Olympics. French prosecutors are also investigating Rio officials and IOC members for alleged financial crimes in 2009 related to Papa Massata Diack.
Takeda was an Olympic equestrian athlete in 1972 and 1976 and is the head of the IOC's Marketing Commission, which helped raise billions of dollars in sponsorship funds from Japanese companies for the Tokyo Olympics.
AP sports writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva and Associate Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to the report.
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