TOKYO (Reuters) – International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said on Monday no IOC rules were infringed by payments in 2013 and 2014 totalling more than $8 million from the Tokyo Olympic bid committee to an executive of the Tokyo organising committee.
Reuters revealed in March that Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of advertising agency Dentsu Inc, was paid the money by Tokyo’s bid panel for undisclosed activities.
“With regard to Mr. Takahashi, we received confirmation that there was no infringement on the IOC rules,” said Bach, who is visiting Japan to inspect preparations for the Olympics, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic..
Takahashi had told Reuters his work included lobbying IOC members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, to whom he gave gifts such as digital cameras and a Seiko watch.
Takahashi said he was paid through his company, Commons Inc, for “wining and dining” people who could further Tokyo’s bid, and for marketing and other activities related to Tokyo’s Olympic campaign.
Takahashi now sits on the board of the organising committee of the Games.
In its reporting, Reuters cited banking records provided by Japan to French prosecutors as part of their investigation into whether Tokyo’s bid committee paid $2.3 million through a Singapore consultant to win Diack’s support for Japan to host the 2020 Games.
Responding to queries about the Tokyo bid committee’s past payments to the Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport Institute, the head of the institute, Yoshiro Mori, who is also the president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, said he was not directly involved in its finances.
“It’s true that I am the president of that organisation, but I wasn’t directly involved in the handling of the finances,” said Mori, who was seated next to Bach at a news conference in the Japanese capital.
He added that he did not know about the roughly $1.3 million the institute received from the bid and could not comment.
Bach said the matter was an “internal affair” of the organising committee.
Reuters had reported that the non-profit had only one staffer, who said the institute used the money to hire consultants to support Tokyo’s campaign.
The institute’s website does not list any activities explicitly linked to the bid. The staffer said she did not know why the institute, and not the bid, hired the consultants.
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Catherine Evans and Clarence Fernandez)