Behind the Tokyo Olympics bribery scandal involving Dentsu, Hakuhodo and ADK |

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“Corruption has been rife in many Olympics as well as in World Cups. It’s like an ancient plague,” says Peter Humphrey, a former corporate fraud and corruption investigator in China who has worked for Kroll Associates, PwC and ChinaWhys.

“In certain countries with weak governance or a history of corruption we see bribery of the government by companies to win contracts to build venues and to provide services. There is also a problem with certain monied countries who splash out bribes to buy the votes of poorer IOC members to obtain the games. You can be sure some of that has happened in almost every Olympic bid, including Japan’s.”

From the moment Tokyo won the bid for 2020 Olympics from rivals Madrid and Istanbul in 2013, the Games have been shrouded in scandal. Sold as the ‘Recovery Games’, the 2020 Games were meant to be a shining opportunity to celebrate the nation’s revival from the 2011 earthquake and the subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Instead the event was cast by a pall of bid-rigging and mounting corruption allegations.

“Nations and companies who hand out largesse hope that no one finds out, or that controversies are forgotten when the Olympic circus comes to town—and public and media attention focuses on tales of sporting glory,” says Mark Forbes, director of reputation at Icon Agency. “Usually, public memory is short-lived, and the passing of time erodes interest in corruption sagas.”

Japan’s late former PM Shinzo Abe, third from right, surrounded by Tokyo delegation members in 2013 after the city won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Games. (AFP/Getty Images)

One thing that will keep public memory stoked is the tenacity of Tokyo prosecutors in pursuing the role of Japan’s top three ad giants—Dentsu, ADK, and Hakuhodo—in this saga. Undoubtedly, this scrutiny will cast a shadow on efforts by another Japanese city, Sapporo, to become the host of the 2030 Winter Games.

Campaign Asia-Pacific has been following this news around the involvement of Tokyo’s top ad agencies. Here’s an explainer on the widening graft probe.

Why are Dentsu, ADK and Hakuhodo under the scanner in the Tokyo 2020 probe?

Short answer: Suspected bid-rigging in 26 out of the total 56 Olympics and Paralympics events.

Explanation: As reported by Campaign last week, offices of Dentsu, Hakuhodo, ADK and Tokyu Agency, were searched in Tokyo by prosecutors and the Fair Trade Commission on suspicion that these firms rigged bids for the rights to manage test events for the Tokyo Games.

Dentsu dominates events, marketing, and PR in Japan, and helped land the 2020 Games for Tokyo. In 2018, Dentsu and eight other companies including Hakuhodo, ADK and Tokyu Agency, and a consortium won 26 open bids for the rights to plan 56 test events, which were designed to check operational issues prior to the actual event.

These nine firms and the consortium eventually managed the Tokyo Games, and authorities believe about ¥20 billion…

Read More: Behind the Tokyo Olympics bribery scandal involving Dentsu, Hakuhodo and ADK | 2022-12-12 08:00:00

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