More than a year after the Tokyo Olympics were held in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, their legacy has been overshadowed by a bribery scandal that threatens to derail a bid by another Japanese city to host the Winter Games.
This summer, as officials in Sapporo, on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, promoted their bid for the 2030 Games, police arrested Haruyuki Takahashi, a former Tokyo Olympics executive, on suspicion of taking bribes in return for helping companies become official sponsors for last year’s event.
Seiko Hashimoto, who replaced Yoshiro Mori as head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee after her predecessor made sexist remarks about female sports administrators, this month acknowledged the corruption allegations could negatively affect Sapporo’s chances.
Describing the situation as “very severe”, Hashimoto said she hoped investigators would get to the bottom of the 2020 allegations as soon as possible. “The significance and value of the Tokyo Games have come into question,” she added, according to Kyodo news agency.
Takahashi, who is believed to have had a key role in selecting sponsors, was last month indicted for a fourth time, with the former senior managing director at Japan’s biggest advertising agency, Dentsu, suspected of accepting 198m yen (£1.2m) in bribes from five firms. He has denied the allegations.
In all, 15 people have been indicted over the scandal, including the former president of a Tokyo-based doll-maker that produced the Olympic and Paralympic mascots, as well as former and current executives from Aoki Holdings, a suit retailer that supplied the Japanese team’s uniforms, and a publishing firm and advertising agency.
Mori, a former prime minister, volunteered to be interviewed by prosecutors in September amid reports that Aoki had given him money. Prosecutors said Mori had been questioned as an unsworn witness and not as a suspect.
In a separate development, police raided Dentsu’s headquarters late last month in connection with allegations that bids had been rigged to decide which companies worked on test events for the Tokyo Games, which were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dentsu was instrumental in helping Tokyo win the 2020 Games when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided the host city in 2013. The company then secured record domestic sponsorship worth about 376bn yen (£2.25bn) – three times that raised for London 2012, the previous record-holder.
Involvement in the pre-Olympic test events would have put companies at a distinct advantage when it came to selecting firms to work on events during the 2020 Games.
“We continue to fully cooperate with this investigation,” Dentsu said in a statement. Aoki Holdings previously said it would cooperate with authorities.
Sapporo last hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972 and had…
Read More: Tokyo Olympics bribery scandal threatens to derail Winter Games bid | Japan 2022-12-06 08:00:00